2 days after shooing, Maryland mall reopens
Monday, January 27, 2014
COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) — A Maryland mall reopened Monday with increased security, somber memorials and still unanswered questions about why a gunman killed two people and himself inside a store.
Crowds of shoppers were sparse in the early minutes of business, though white flowers were already scattered in a memorial fountain. As the community tried to get back to some sort of normalcy, investigators worked to piece together a motive for the shooting.
Police found a journal belonging to Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19, but they would only say that it “expressed general unhappiness.” The contents, however, were enough for an officer looking into the disappearance of Aguilar on the day of the shooting to worry about the teen’s safety.
Aguilar was supposed to work at Dunkin’ Donuts on Saturday morning, but he never showed up. Police said Aguilar took a taxi to the Mall in Columbia in suburban Baltimore and entered the building near Zumiez, a shop that sells skateboarding gear. He went downstairs to a food court directly below the store, then returned less than an hour later, dumped the backpack in a dressing room and started shooting.
Shoppers fled in a panic or barricaded themselves behind closed doors. When police arrived, they found three people dead — two store employees and Aguilar.
The shooting baffled investigators and acquaintances of Aguilar, a quiet, skinny teenager who graduated from high school last spring and had no previous run-ins with law enforcement.
Aguilar, who had concealed the shotgun in a bag, fired six to nine times. One victim, Brianna Benlolo, a 21-year-old single mother, lived half a mile away from Aguilar in the same College Park neighborhood, but police said they were still trying to determine what, if any, relationship they had.
The other employee, Tyler Johnson, did not know Aguilar and did not socialize with Benlolo outside of work, a relative said.
Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said there has been speculation about a romantic relationship between the gunman and Benlolo, but investigators have not been able to establish that.
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