Maryland mall to reopen after fatal weekend shooting

Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:36am EST

Jan 27 (Reuters) - A Maryland mall where a 19-year-old gunman shot and killed two young store employees before apparently taking his own life was scheduled to reopen on Monday with increased law enforcement presence, police said.

The popular retail complex in Columbia, Maryland, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Baltimore, has been closed since Darion Marcus Aguilar fired six to eight shots from a 12-gauge shotgun on Saturday as the mall bustled with weekend shoppers.

Police are still investigating what drove Aguilar, of College Park, Maryland, to shoot and whether he knew the two employees of a clothing and skateboard shop who died.

No evidence has revealed a relationship between Aguilar and the victims, Brianna Benlolo, 21, also of College Park, and Tyler Johnson, 25, of Mount Airy, Maryland, Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon said on Sunday.

A third person who was near Zumiez, the shop where the shooting took place on the mall's upper level just above the food court, suffered a gunshot wound to the foot. Police initially said that person was on a lower floor, but on Sunday said a gunshot on that level struck a wall but no people.

The attack was the latest in a spate of shootings across the United States that has renewed questions about the vulnerability of public places. It sparked fresh calls from some politicians for stiffer gun control.

Aguilar had a backpack filled with crude explosives and authorities were initially concerned he had booby-trapped himself, McMahon said.

Police believe Aguilar, who they said did not have a criminal record, legally bought the shotgun last month in nearby Montgomery County.

Police found more ammunition and Aguilar's journal during a search of his home. In the journal, "he does express some general unhappiness with his life," McMahon said.

Aguilar was reported missing by his mother on the day of the shooting after he did not show up for his job at a Dunkin Donuts store in College Park, the Baltimore Sun reported. (Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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