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Three People Killed In Columbia Mall Shooting

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People are evacuated from the Mall in Columbia, Md., after a shooting at the mall on Saturday Jan. 25, 2014 in Howard County, Md. Police in Maryland say three people died Saturday in a shooting at a mall in suburban Baltimore, including the presumed gunman.
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
People are evacuated from the Mall in Columbia, Md., after a shooting at the mall on Saturday Jan. 25, 2014 in Howard County, Md. Police in Maryland say three people died Saturday in a shooting at a mall in suburban Baltimore, including the presumed gunman.

Police say a shooting has occurred at the Columbia Mall in Howard County, Md., and confirm that three people, including the shooter, have been killed.

Debby Sergi works at a candy store in the mall. She said just after 11 a.m. she was startled by loud bangs.

"It sounded to me like three shots and then a pause and then two more shots," she said.

When the man, armed with a shotgun, started his shooting spree, Sergi took customers in the back of the store and huddled there until members of a SWAT team let them out 40 minutes later.

"But there was food and people's clothes, people's coats and food on the floor where people just dropped their things and run. It just breaks your heart," she said.

Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon said police were able to identify three victims at an upper level store, one of whom is believed to be the shooter.

Besides the three deceased, emergency officials took five people to the hospital — one for a gunshot wound to the foot and others for minor injuries.

In a press conference this afternoon, police officials say that they cleared the mall and do not believe there are any additional victims. They also said that they do not yet know of a motive for the shooting. McMahon said reports of this possibly being a domestic incident are pure speculation at this time.

Police have identified the two people killed as Brianna Benlolo, 21, of College Park and Tyler Johnson, 25, of Ellicott City. They both worked at a skate shop called Zumiez.

McMahon says they have not identified the suspected shooter and they are taking several precautions as they investigate the scene.

"Because of concerns about any other weapons he may have or explosives, we are approaching this with an abundance of caution and we are getting assistance from some of our federal partners in making sure that there are no explosives on the body of the deceased," he said.

The mall was closed for the rest of the day while investigators continue to interview witnesses of the incident who may have information.

"This shouldn't happen in you know, Columbia Mall. It shouldn't happen anywhere, but unfortunately that's kind of where we are in society and things do happen and so certainly as we're dealing with the technical and logistical issues of this, there are three families grieving," McMahon said. "So certainly our best wishes and prayers go out to them."

County Executive Ken Ulman called the response a well-run, thoughtful operation and is thanking neighboring agencies for their help. He says it's been a tremendously trying few hours and is thanking the public for their patience as the investigation continues.

The mall is at the center of the town, a suburb of both Baltimore and Washington.

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