(Adds details, quotes from shooter's neighbors)
By Alice Popovici
COLUMBIA, Md. Jan 26 A gunman who shot and
killed two people at a Maryland mall was a 19-year-old man who
lived with his mother in the city of College Park and arrived at
the shopping center in a taxi about an hour before opening fire,
police said on Sunday.
But a day after Saturday's shootings, police could provide
no immediate insight into why Darion Marcus Aguilar killed a
young man and a young woman at the mall in Columbia, Maryland,
about 20 miles (32 km) west of Baltimore, before apparently
Police have yet to find any ties between Aguilar and the two
people he killed, employees at a skate shop at the mall, Howard
County Police Chief Bill McMahon told a Sunday morning news
"We do know that one of our victims also lived in College
Park," McMahon said. "We don't know if there's any connection
there or whether that's merely coincidental."
Aguilar fired six to eight shots from a 12-gauge shotgun,
killing Brianna Benlolo, 21, of College Park, and Tyler Johnson,
25, of Mount Airy, Maryland, police said.
Both were employees of Zumiez, the skate shop where the
shooting took place. A third person on a lower floor of the mall
suffered a gunshot wound to the foot, and four more people were
hurt in the ensuing chaos.
The attack was the latest in a spate of shootings in recent
weeks across the United States that have renewed questions about
the vulnerability of public places like shopping centers,
schools and cinemas.
U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and
chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said on
Sunday that the latest shooting highlighted the vulnerability of
"You can't have a security lockdown at our malls," he said
in an interview with CBS, "but things like canines, a heavier
canine presence are very good at detecting explosives."
"It's very difficult to stop a lone gunman who may have
mental issues ...(and) wants to kill people. I mean, you can
only do so much to stop that," he added.
The shooting in Maryland followed earlier gun violence at a
New Jersey mall in November in which a gunman fired at least six
shots without hitting anyone, sparking a mass evacuation of the
complex, then killed himself.
The past week saw a student shot dead at South Carolina
State University in Orangeburg on Friday, after a teacher's
assistant was shot and killed at Purdue University in Indiana on
Tuesday. Suspects have been charged with crimes in both cases.
SHOOTER AND VICTIM WERE NEIGHBORS
The Maryland shooting happened around 11:15 a.m. EST (1615
GMT) on the mall's upper level just above the food court. The
mall, which has more than 200 stores, was crowded with weekend
shoppers; many took shelter after hearing the shots or seeing
Police, who were in the area on another case, responded to
the emergency calls within two minutes and found all three
bodies either in the store or just outside it.
Aguilar had a backpack filled with crude explosives, and
authorities were initially concerned he had booby-trapped
himself, McMahon said.
"These were homemade devices consisting of flash powder and
household items, so they're not very sophisticated," McMahon
Overnight, police searched Aguilar's home where they found
more ammunition, and seized computers and documents. Police
believe Aguilar legally bought the shotgun himself last month in
nearby Montgomery County.
McMahon said he could not yet give further information about
Aguilar, including whether he worked or was a student.
Aguilar lived less than a mile away from Benlolo, the female
victim, in a quiet middle-class neighborhood with tree-lined
streets in College Park, which is home to the University of
Maryland's flagship campus.
There was no answer at Aguilar's address. Neighbors said he
lived there with his mother and possibly a sister, and that the
family, who had only moved in within the last couple of years,
kept to themselves.
Neighbor Megan O'Reilly said she interacted with them only a
couple of times. "The house, when I visited, looked immaculately
kept on the inside," she said. "They were not very engaging as
(Reporting by Alice Popovici; Writing By Jonathan Allen;
Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Sophie Hares, Jonathan Oatis and