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As Investigators Search For Motive In Killings, Columbia Mall Reopens

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A memorial to the victims of the Columbia Mall shooting has been erected near the mall's fountain.
Elliott Francis/WAMU
A memorial to the victims of the Columbia Mall shooting has been erected near the mall's fountain.
Darion Marcus Aguilar

As the investigation continues in this weekend's deadly shooting in the Mall at Columbia, officials report that the shopping facility in Howard County has been re-opened.

A heavy police presence greeted visitors to the mall when it was opened again around 1 p.m. on Monday. Howard County executive Ken Ulman was on-hand, as was Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

"I wanted to be here today to simply state that we’re all in this together. That every single life in our state is needed," said O'Malley. "And sadly, at the outset of this year, we have lost far too many lives to violent crime."

Along with the Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun purchased legally in Montgomery County last month, investigators found two crude explosive devices on the body of 19-year old Darion Marcus Aguilar. Police say the devices appeared to be an attempt at making explosives using fireworks.

Police searched Aguilar's home Saturday evening and found more ammunition along with a journal in which investigators say Aguilar expressed general unhappiness with his life. Friends of the shooter who attended James Hubert Blake HS with him in Silver Spring say he was an avid skateboader.

Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) says this kind of violence should serve as a call to action.

"It reminds me that there are no boundaries to gun violence," Cummings said. "And perhaps this is another one of those wakeup calls were the public needs to stop and say, ‘Maybe we do need to do something to try and figure out this whole situation.'"

Police admit so far they don't know why the 19-year old took the lives of 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo of College Park and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson of Ellicott City. Both worked at a skateboard shop in the Mall called Zumiez. Benlolo, a single mother, had worked at the store since 2012; Johnson had worked there for three months.

A memorial was erected near the mall's fountain to honor the lives of both Benlolo and Johnson.

The skateboard store where the shooting took place is boarded up and will remain closed indefinitely.


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