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Mall in Columbia: Shooter ID’d as teenager Darion Marcus Aguilar

Police say the shooter at the Mall in Columbia, Md., was 19 year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar, who killed two mall employees before taking his own life. But authorities so far know little about motive.

By Staff writer / January 26, 2014

A heavily armed police officer walks on scene after a shooting at The Mall in Columbia on Saturday in Columbia, Md. Three people died in the shooting in suburban Baltimore, including presumed gunman Darion Marcus Aguilar.

Evan Vucci/AP

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Police officials have identified the shooter at the Mall in Columbia, Md. as 19 year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar, who apparently lived with his mother in the suburb of College Park, where the University of Maryland is located.

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Staff writer and editor

Brad Knickerbocker is a staff writer and editor based in Ashland, Oregon.

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Other than that, officials at this point know little about Mr. Aguilar or his motive in the shooting, which left two mall employees dead as well as the shooter, who took his own life.

Was he a student or perhaps an employee at the mall? Did he know the two people he killed, both young employees at a skateboard shop? Did he intend more violence with the shotgun and large amount of ammunition he carried or with the crude explosives made of fireworks and carried in a backpack?

"There are a lot of unanswered questions," Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said at a press briefing.

As the investigation continues, authorities have learned that Aguilar bought the Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun at a local store a month ago. He took a taxi to the mall Saturday, then walked around for about an hour before opening fire. It’s unclear how he was able to conceal the shotgun in a crowd of shoppers.

Although the violence ended quickly, and the rapid response – police arrived two minutes after the first 911 call – reflected a considerable amount of training for just such an event at the mall, it was hours before police could be sure that any other potential threat had been eliminated. When the shooting started, many shoppers and employees had taken refuge in storage areas and dressing rooms, some fashioning barricades.

The two other people killed were employees at the Zumiez skateboard shop on the second level of the mall: Brianna Benlolo, 21, of College Park, Md., and Tyler Johnson, 25, of Ellicott City, Md.

Ms. Benlolo's grandfather, John Feins, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from Florida that his granddaughter had a 2-year-old son and that the job at Zumiez was her first since she went back to work after her son's birth.

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