COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) — Police have identified the gunman in the Maryland mall shooting as a 19 year old from suburban Washington.
Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said Darion Marcus Aguilar of College Park, Md., arrived at the mall shortly after 10 a.m. on Saturday armed with a Mossburg 12-gauge shotgun and used it to kill two people at a store on the upper level of the Mall of Columbia before killing himself.
McMahon said police are trying to determine whether Aguilar knew either of the victims.
Police identified the victims as 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo of College Park, Md., and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson of Ellicott City, Md. Both worked at a skateboard shop called Zumiez.
It took hours to identify the shooter since he was carrying ammunition and a backpack and police thought he may have had explosives, McMahon said. When the body was searched, police found crude homemade explosives in the backpack.
“When we originally found the shooter, he still had a lot of ammunition on his person,” McMahon said at a news conference Sunday morning.
McMahon said he didn’t know if Aguilar had a criminal record. No motive has been given for the shooting.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” McMahon said.
Very few details were released about Aguilar. He apparently lived with his mother in the suburb of College Park, where University of Maryland is located. McMahon didn’t know if Aguilar was a student there.
According to McMahon, Aguilar purchased the shotgun last month at a shop in neighboring Montgomery County.
Aguilar took a taxi to the mall and roamed its halls before shots rang out within an hour. Police arrived at the scene just 2 minutes after a 911 call came into authorities at 11:15 a.m. When they arrived, they found three bodies at the Zumiez skateboard shop on the upper level.
Five others were injured in the midmorning shooting and its aftermath. All had been released from hospitals by Saturday evening. Only one person was injured by gunfire.
“This was a very scary incident,” Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said. “There were a lot of people very close to where this happened.”
Earlier, McMahon praised mall patrons for doing the right thing by sheltering in place and not stampeding toward the exits.
“We actually have drilled on this in the past and that experience has been very beneficial to us,” McMahon said Saturday.
A news release Saturday night said police found and disabled “two crude devices that appeared to be an attempt at making explosives using fireworks.” Police were searching the mall with dogs overnight, which is standard procedure, and the mall was to remain closed through Tuesday.
Joan Harding of Elkridge, Md., was shopping with her husband, David, for a tiara for their granddaughter’s 18th birthday. She said she heard something heavy falling, followed by gunshots and people running.
“My husband said, ‘Get down!’ and the girl that worked in the store said, ‘Get in the back,'” Harding said. That is where they hid until police searched the mall and signaled it was safe to leave.