The shooter in Saturday’s deadly attack at a Maryland mall has been identified by police. They report that 19-year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar of College Park, Maryland was the man behind the mayhem at the Zumiez store in The Mall of Columbia yesterday.
Although police have identified the shooter, his motive for the crime remains a mystery. Police are continuing to investigate any connection that Aguilar may have had to either of the two mall workers that were shot and killed by the young man. It is believed that he lived nearby one of the deceased.
Aguilar reportedly lived at home with his mother and a source has reported that he was an employee at a local Dunkin Donuts store. He was apparently scheduled to work on Saturday, but did not show up for his shift. He graduated from James Hubert Black High School in 2013 and though he had been admitted to Montgomery College, he never enrolled and attended. His mother reportedly filed a missing person’s report for her son in the hours following the mall shooting as she had been unable to reach him.
Police report that Aguilar took a taxi to the mall and was there for about an hour before he opened fire at a Zumiez store on the second-floor of the shopping center. He reportedly fired six to eight shots from a 12-gauge shotgun, taking the lives of two Zumiez employees, Brianna Benlolo, 21 and Tyler Johnson, 25, in addition to his own. The shooting led to mayhem resulting in injuries to at least five bystanders as well.
The gun used in the attack appears to have been purchased legally in December. Police have reported that the man identified as the Maryland mall shooter was also in possession of additional unused ammunition and two devices that appear to have been crude attempts to create explosives at the time of his crime.
The shots rang out at about 11:15 on Saturday morning and police responding to multiple 911 calls reportedly had the scene secured by 1:00 p.m. Their job was made more difficult by the fact that the mall was busy, with thousands of shoppers reportedly present at the time of the shooting. SWAT team members worked store by store throughout the mall to ensure that people were safe from any further threats and were led out of the mall following the deadly incident.
Witnesses to the scene describe chaos as people began to run in every direction to escape the possible threat. Police say that some shoppers were found hiding even several hours after the incident. Mall employees report being terrified and say that it will be a challenge to go back to work. The mall remains closed today as police continue their investigation.
The shooting at the Maryland mall by now identified shooter, Darion Marcus Aguilar, was just the latest in a string of frightening gun incidents to occur across the country over the past week. Fatal shootings occurred both at Purdue University and South Carolina State University last week. A shooting took place at Widener University resulting in a critical injury to the victim, and a shooter was believed at one time to be on the campus of Oklahoma State University as well, though that proved to be a false alarm.
By Michele Wessel