Brianna Benlolo was killed in the Columbia Mall shooting late Saturday morning, leaving behind a 2-year-old son and a legacy as a caring and warmhearted mother.
Benlolo was one of three people killed when a gunman opened fire inside a Zumiez store at The Mall in Columbia, a suburb of Baltimore. Police said the shooter killed Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson, both employees at Zumiez, before turning the gun on himself.
According to her Facebook page, Brianna Benlolo was an assistant manager at Zumiez, and friends said she worked hard to provide for her 2-year-old son. Benlolo had moved around in her youth, coming from a military family that brought her to Florida and Colorado before moving to Maryland in 2010.
Within hours of the Mall in Columbia shooting, friends of Brianna Benlolo were still trying to come to grips with what had happened.
Kaela Bugg, a friend of Brianna, described her as a “supermom deserving of a cape and a cool superhero name.”
“She is an amazing person and had such a good head on her shoulders and knew what she wanted and worked her ass off to get it and to make sure her baby boy had everything he could want and need,” added friend Kaitlyn Shank. “She was an incredible mother and friend.”
Other friends feared for Benlolo as soon as the news of the Mall in Columbia shooting broke. Abhishek Rishi, a friend who worked in the mall with Benlolo, posted a panicked message on Facebook trying to see if anyone knew if she was safe. He said he was crushed to learn that she was among those killed.
“She was a very caring, heartwarming person,” said. “She never said anything bad about anybody. She was just one of those people you wanted to be around. She was just genuinely happy.”
Police said the shooting was related to a domestic dispute, but did not elaborate on the relationship between Brianna Benlolo and the shooter. Police added that they also found a crude explosive device next to the shooter, along with a shotgun.