National Beat Reporter
A gunman opened fire at the skate shop Zumies in a mall near Baltimore, Md., on Saturday, Jan. 25, killing two store employees and injuring five others before killing himself. One of the injured persons suffered a gunshot wound to the foot, and four others were injured in the chaos, police said.
Police identified the victims as Brianna Benlolo, 21, of College Park and Tyler Johnson, 25, of Ellicott City.
Benlolo was an assistant manager at the Zumies store and is survived by her young son. Johnson had worked at the store since November and was active in a local 12-step program; he often visited high schools to warn students about the dangers of drugs.
Police arrived at the scene only two minutes after the 911 call was placed; however, it took several hours to clear the mall, which has over 200 stores. The shooting happened at about 11:15 a.m., while the mall was full of weekend shoppers; however, surveillance video shows the gunman arriving at around 10:15 a.m.
Police later identified the dead gunman as Darion Marcus Aguilar, a 19-year-old who lived in College Park with his mother. Aguilar graduated from high school last year and was working at a Dunkin’ Donuts store near his home.
Police found a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun and a large amount of ammunition near Aguilar’s dead body. Two homemade explosive devices were also found inside his backpack.
“He still had a large amount of ammunition on and about him and because of concerns about explosives and any other weapons he might have we are approaching this with an abundance of caution,” Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon told reporters.
Police told reporters that Aguilar had purchased the shotgun legally in Maryland in December, adding to the continuous debate over United States’ gun laws.
Aguilar never arrived at work the morning of the shooting, and his mother reported him missing at 1:40 p.m., roughly three hours after the shooting had occurred. Investigators then tracked Aguilar’s phone to the mall after reading something in the boy’s journal that suggested he might be harmful to both himself and others.
Aguilar’s motive remains unclear. Police told reporters that Aguilar did not have a criminal record and that there was no known relationship between him and the victims.
Zumiez, the skate shop, which has more than 400 stores across the United States, stated that it was “deeply saddened by the violence” at its store.
This shooting followed another mall shooting in New Jersey in November, during which the gunman fired six shots before killing himself.
There have also been a series of recent university shootings. A student was shot dead on Friday, Jan. 24, at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, and a teacher’s assistant was shot and killed on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at Purdue University in Indiana.
The Maryland mall, not far from the state capitol of Baltimore, reopened on Monday.