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Police identify Columbia mall shooter; motive still unknown

Monday - 1/27/2014, 12:22pm  ET

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Aguilar and family 'kept to themselves'

WTOP's Kate Ryan reports.

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Aguilar's mother to reporters: I don't know what happened

WTOP's Kate Ryan reports

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WASHINGTON - Howard County police have identified the man who killed two people and himself at the Mall in Columbia on Saturday morning, but questions still remain as to why the 19-year-old opened fire in the mall.

Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19, of College Park, killed mall employees 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo, of College Park, and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson, of Mt. Airy, Md., with a shotgun at about 11:15 a.m., Chief Bill McMahon said at a news conference on Sunday morning.

The mall will reopens Monday at 1 p.m. When the mall reopens, there will be memory books to sign and visitors will be invited to float flowers in the mall's fountain in memory of Benlolo and Johnson.

Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon said at a 6 p.m. Sunday news conference that while there's still speculation of romantic involvement between the shooter and victims, there is no known relationship at this time. Police also recovered Aguilar's computer documents and journal which expressed unhappiness with his life. It has been reported that he had no criminal record and was an avid skater.

Aguilar was dropped off by a taxi at the mall at about 10:15 a.m. Saturday, McMahon said. The first call to 911 came in at about 11:15. The chief said Aguilar had a "very limited amount of movement in the mall."

Six to eight shots were fired near the Zumiez store on the upper level of the mall, the chief said, and someone standing on the lower level was shot in the foot.

McMahon said Aguilar used a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun he bought legally in Montgomery County last month.

Police executed a search warrant at Aguilar's home Saturday night, where he lived with his mother and perhaps others, McMahon said. Police recovered evidence including ammunition, computers and documents. Police will sift through the evidence for several days.

While Aguilar had several "not very sophisticated" improvised explosive devices consisting of flash powder and household items in a bag, which slowed up the process of identifying him, McMahon said the body itself was not booby-trapped, though Aguilar had "lots of ammunition" on him.

Police searched the mall until about 2:15 a.m. Sunday and found no other devices.

McMahon also said that anyone who left personal items in the common areas of the mall when they fled can get them back at the PNC building at 30 Corporate Center. Tenants of the mall will be contacted by mall management as to when they can get back into their stores.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman called Saturday "a tragic, sad, scary day for our community," but he added, "I also saw a lot of things [Saturday] that made me incredibly proud," citing stories of strangers helping each other.

"We're better than this," Ulman said.

Ulman says people are working to get their lives back together and best thing people can do in the wake of Saturday's shooting is come back to the mall on Monday and show support in the community.

"Clearly this is something that has touched our community," Ulman said on WTOP Monday. "We are an incredibility safe community, a resilient community, but these senseless acts of gun violence can clearly strike anywhere."

Ulman added that he and his wife would visit the mall Monday and have lunch in the food court.

Watch excerpts from the news conference, via the Associated Press:

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