Update: Shooter, victims identified in Columbia, MD mall

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Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon  identified the three people who were fatally shot in a skateboard clothing shop in the Columbia Mall Saturday morning.

The shooter apparently shot two store employees – a man and a woman before turning the gun on himself, police said.

1st Assistant Manager at Zumiez
U Brianna Benlolo, 1st Assistant Manager at Zumiez

The victims were identified as Brianna Benlolo, 21, of College Park, Maryland, and  Tyler Johnson, 25, of Ellicott City, Maryland. Both worked at Zumiez. Benlolo, an assistant manager had a two-year-old child.

Police found the suspected shooter’s body near a shotgun on the floor of Zumiez. They also found a large amount of ammunition with the shooter. Police found two crude devices in the suspected shooter’s bag that could be used to make explosives with fireworks.

Update: McMahon identified Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19, of College Park, as the shooter. McMahon said the shooter arrived at the mall by cab shortly after 10 a.m. on Saturday armed with a Mossburg 12-gauge shotgun and shot two employees. He fired six to eight shots, McMahon said. WBAL and other news outlets reported the gunman was Benlolo’s ex-boyfriend, and that Johnson and Benlolo were engaged. Police have yet to confirm WBAL’s report.

McMahon reported Sunday morning that police have not yet discovered any connection between the shooter and the victims.

“This should not happen at the Columbia Mall,” McMahon told reporters Saturday at the press conference. “This shouldn’t happen anywhere.”

Tyler Johnson
Tyler Johnson

Police responded shortly after getting a 911 call about the shooting around 11:15 a.m.  The shooting took place mostly inside the skateboard store, McMahon said.

“Think about this, on a Saturday afternoon at the mall, how many people may be in there,” McMahon said.. “Something like this happens and people run in many directions, and they also do what we train them to do — to shelter in place.”

Several state leaders expressed condolences to the victims’ families.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said: “On behalf of the people of Maryland, I want to express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and all those affected by this senseless act of violence. Protecting the public’s safety is our most solemn obligation.”

Briana Benlolo 21, shown here working at the mall a week ago. BENNYLULU_ VIA INSTAGRAM
Briana Benlolo 21, shown here working at the mall a week ago. BENNYLULU_ VIA INSTAGRAM

CNN quoted a federal source Saturday, who claimed the shooting may be related to a domestic dispute, but Howard County police officials have not confirmed this and said it may or may not be related. In fact, they said reporters should not be quoting a federal source but rather the Howard County police, which are in charge of the investigation.

Five others were being treated at Howard County General Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said in a statement.

They are reportedly in good condition. One of those had a gunshot wound to the foot and others had a sprained ankle and another a seizure during the shooting.

Thousands in the malls fled as shots were being fired. Many were in tears and crying as they ran for shelter until police and rescue workers arrived.

The police chief remained confident it was a single shooter.

The Mall is closed until further notice.

Zumiez’  Statement

“We are deeply saddened by the violence that has occurred this morning within our store in Maryland at The Mall in Columbia. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

As you have heard from the Howard County Police the two victims are Zumiez employees. They have been identified as Brianna Benlolo and Tyler Johnson. 

We’re making arrangements for counselling to be made available to Zumiez employees in the area. 

As you can imagine, we are receiving numerous calls and are unable to respond to the flood of questions at this time. We’re working with the Howard County police department and all information will come through them. We won’t be giving interviews or comments. Thank you for understanding.

The Zumiez team is a tight knit community and all of our hearts go out to Brianna and Tyler’s families. ”— Rick Brooks, Zumiez CEO