On any given weekend, the Mall in Columbia is filled with shoppers from all walks of life. You can find adults and teens browsing from store to store, families dining in the food court and children riding on the carousel. On Saturday, however, the Mall in Columbia was filled with terror.
A lone gunman armed with a shotgun walked into the mall, and took two innocent lives, before ending his own, scaring thousands in the process.
Howard County police identified the shooter this morning as 19-year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar. The recent James Hubert Black high school graduate arrived by cab to the mall around 10:15 am with his Mossburg 12-gauge shotgun, a large amount of ammunition and a bag that contained two crude explosive devices.
After about an hour, he made his way to Zumiez, a store that caters to skaters. During his trek, he terrorized those who were in his way, causing many to scream and flee. Patrons hid in stores, in restrooms and behind tables at the food court, while Aguilar forged towards his targets.
Upon entering the skate shop, Aguilar shot and killed Brianna Benlolo, 21, and Tyler Johnson, 25. Aguilar then turned the gun on himself.
Police are still investigating the motive of this latest string of gun violence that has occurred this week. As of yet, they cannot find a link between Aguilar and the two victims. There is thought that the incident is related to a domestic situation, though nothing official has been said at this time.
View a witness account, here:
Benlolo, who was an assistant manager at Zumiez and began working there in 2012, was the mother of a small boy. Johnson had only worked at the store for about three months.
Police searched the home of Aguilar and seized documents, a computer and other evidence, including a journal. In the journal, Aguilar expressed some general unhappiness in life, but nothing indicative of a motive for the shooting.
Five people were transported to the hospital following the incident and all were released. One victim was treated for a gunshot wound to the foot, which she likely received while Aguilar was on his way to Zumiez. Other ailments include a seizure and a broken ankle.
Those in the mall during the shooting were contained for hours, as police put the shopping center on lockdown.
Many took to Twitter to express their thoughts about the shooting:
— ThePhirstNoel (@cavaughn) January 25, 2014
Texted my brother, and he and his family weren't at the mall today. Phew. #ColumbiaMallShooting
— Beth (@BeeEssBee) January 25, 2014
Praying for all involved #columbiamallshooting
— Judah Smith (@judahsmith) January 25, 2014
Malls, churches, schools, theaters, college campuses ... all places we should feel safe. #Columbiamallshooting
— T.J. Holmes (@tjholmes) January 25, 2014
I challenge the mass media to celebrate the lives of the victims of this tragic event rather than the killer. #ColumbiaMallShooting
— Joe Nation (@JoeNationTV) January 25, 2014
The Mall in Columbia will reopen on Monday, and police will continue to look for a motive in this latest gun-involved tragedy.
Image via YouTube