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No motive found yet for mall shooting

Gunman was avid skateboarder with no criminal past

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Jose Luis Magana | AP

People are evacuated from the Mall escorted by police officer in Columbia, Md., after a shooting at the mall Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Howard County, Md.

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COLUMBIA, Md. — The gunman who killed two people at a Maryland mall was a teenage skateboarding enthusiast who had no criminal record before he showed up at the shopping center armed with a shotgun, plenty of ammunition and a backpack filled with crude homemade explosives, authorities said Sunday.

Darion Marcus Aguliar, 19, took a taxi to the Mall in Columbia in suburban Baltimore on Saturday morning and entered the building near Zumiez, a shop that sells skateboarding gear. He went downstairs to a food court directly below the store, then returned less than an hour later, dumped the backpack in a dressing room and started shooting, police said.

Shoppers fled in a panic or barricaded themselves behind closed doors. When police arrived, they found three people dead — two store employees and Aguilar, who killed himself, authorities said.

The shooting baffled investigators and acquaintances of Aguilar, a quiet, skinny teenager who graduated from high school less than a year ago and had no previous run-ins with law enforcement. Police spent Sunday trying to piece together his motive, but it remained elusive.

Aguilar fired six to nine times. One victim, Brianna Benlolo, a 21-year-old single mother, lived half a mile away from Aguilar in the same College Park neighborhood, but police said they were still trying to determine what, if any, relationship they had.

Although they lived close to Maryland’s largest university, neither was a student there.

The other employee, Tyler Johnson, did not know Aguilar and did not socialize with Benlolo outside of work, a relative said.

Aguilar graduated from James Hubert Black High School in 2013, school officials confirmed.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said at a news conference. Aguilar purchased the 12-gauge shotgun legally last month at a store in neighboring Montgomery County.

It took hours to identify the gunman since he was carrying ammunition and the crude explosives, McMahon said.

Officers searched Aguilar’s home Saturday night, recovering more ammunition, computers and documents, police said.

The home is a two-story wood-frame house in a middle-income neighborhood called Hollywood, near the Capital Beltway. No one answered the door Sunday morning. There was a Christmas wreath on the front door and signs that read “Beware of Dog.”

Aguilar and his mother rented the home. Sirkka Singleton, who owns the property with her husband and lives a block away, said they use a property manager to find tenants and have never met the Aguilars. She declined to say who the property manager was.

Five other people were hurt in the attack, but only one was hit by gunfire — a woman who was in the food court downstairs from the store and was hit in the foot. All were released from hospitals by Saturday evening.

1 image

Jose Luis Magana | AP

People are evacuated from the Mall escorted by police officer in Columbia, Md., after a shooting at the mall Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Howard County, Md.

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