Mall gunman was avid skater, had no criminal past
Police still try to establish motive
The home of Darion Marcus Aguilar of College Park, Md., is seen Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Police say Aguilar carried out Saturdays attack with a shotgun at a skateboard shop at the Mall of Columbia before killing himself. Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said investigators are trying to determine whether Aguilar knew either of the victims and whether he had a criminal record. They offered no motive for the shooting. (AP Photo/Ben Nuckles)
Restaurant general manager Heather Saffield, watches though the glass door from her restaurant at The Mall in Columbia Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Columbia, Md., as police continue the evacuation of the remaining mall visitors following a shooting that police say three people died including the presumed gunman. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
People are evacuated from the Mall escorted by police officer in Columbia, Md., after a shooting at the mall on Saturday Jan. 25, 2014 in Howard County, Md. Police in Maryland say three people died Saturday in a shooting at a mall in suburban Baltimore, including the presumed gunman. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Police talk on the scene after a shooting at The Mall in Columbia on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 in Columbia, Md. Police say three people died at the mall including the presumed gunman. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
In a 2001 photo provided by Bruce Roberts,the stones being engraved with the names of the 83 light keepers by A.C. Joyner and his daughter, Rebecca. When the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was moved 15 years ago, the stones were left behind at the erosion-prone spot on the Atlantic. Hatteras Island residents want the stones moved to the lighthouse so that they are publicly visible year-round and better protected from erosion. But the decision rests with the National Park Service, and so far there is no indication that the stones will be moved. (AP Photo/Bruce Roberts)
This photo released by the Howard County Police shows shooting suspect Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19, of College Park, MD. Aguilar carried out the Saturday Jan. 25, 2014, attack with a 12-gauge shotgun at a skateboard shop at the Mall in Columbia in suburban Baltimore before killing himself, police said. (AP Photo/ Howard County Police)
The gunman who killed two people at a Maryland mall was a teenage skateboarding enthusiast who had no criminal record before he showed up at the shopping center armed with a shotgun, plenty of ammunition and a backpack filled with crude homemade explosives, authorities said yesterday.
Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19, took a taxi to the Mall in Columbia in suburban Baltimore on Saturday morning 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, the police said.
Shoppers fled in a panic or barricaded themselves behind closed doors. When the police arrived, they found three people dead – two store employees and Aguilar, who had killed himself, authorities said.
The shooting baffled investigators and acquaintances of Aguilar, a quiet, skinny teenager who graduated from high school less than a year ago and had no previous run-ins with law enforcement. The police spent yesterday trying to piece together his motive, but it remained elusive.
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 a half mile away from Aguilar in the same College Park neighborhood, but the police said they were still trying to determine what, if any, relationship they had.
Although they lived close to Maryland’s largest university, neither was a student there. Aguilar was accepted last February to Montgomery College, a community college in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, but school spokesman Marcus Rosano said he never registered or attended.
The other employee, Tyler Johnson, did not know Aguilar and did not socialize with Benlolo outside of work, a relative said.
Tydryn Scott, 19, said she was Aguilar’s lab partner in science class at James Hubert Black High School and said he hung out with other skaters. She said she was stung by the news.
“It was really hurtful, like, wow – someone that I know, someone that I’ve been in the presence of more than short amounts of time. I’ve seen this guy in action before. Never upset, never sad, just quiet, just chill,” Scott told the Associated Press. “If any other emotion, he was happy, laughing.”
Aguilar graduated in 2013, school officials confirmed.
The Prince George’s County Police Department said it received a missing persons report for Aguilar about 1:40 p.m. Saturday, more than two hours after the mall shooting. Officers went to Aguilar’s home to speak with his mother about 5 p.m. and saw Aguilar’s journal.
The portion the officer read made him concerned for Aguilar’s safety, the department said.
The police began tracking Aguilar’s phone and soon discovered it was at the mall.
Howard County police Chief William McMahon said the journal expressed general unhappiness, but he did not give any specifics about the writings.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” McMahon said.
The police chief said there has been speculation about a romantic relationship between the gunman and Benlolo, but investigators have not been able to establish that.
Aguilar purchased the 12-gauge shotgun legally last month at a store in neighboring Montgomery County.
At his home, officers also recovered more ammunition, computers and documents, the police said.
The home is in a middle-income neighborhood called Hollywood, near the Capital Beltway. No one answered the door yesterday morning. There was a Christmas wreath on the front door and signs that read “Beware of Dog.”