The Columbia mall shooter’s personal diary may help authorities understand his motive. Darion Marcus Aguilar, age 19, opened fire inside The Mall in Columbia on Saturday morning. Although he is remembered as a “gentle, sweet kid,” Aguilar shot and killed two people before turning the gun on himself.
On Saturday morning, the teen reportedly took a taxi to the Maryland mall. Officials said he spent approximately an hour in the mall’s food court before entering a store called Zumiez, which sells skateboarding accessories and gear.
Authorities said Aguilar immediately entered the shop’s dressing room and removed a shotgun from his backpack. He then walked out of the dressing room and fired six to nine shots. Witnesses said the teen shot and killed 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson. He then used the same gun to commit suicide. Benlolo and Johnson were both Zumiez employees.
Five others were reportedly injured in the attack. One person was shot in the foot and the remaining four were injured in the mass panic. The five additional victims’ injuries were non life-threatening. Police found several crude explosive devices in the suspect’s backpack. However, the devices were never activated.
Aguilar was a 2013 graduate of James Hubert Blake High School and was employed at Dunkin’ Donuts. Although he applied and was accepted to Montgomery College in 2013, he failed to complete the registration and did not attend.
His mother said she had no idea her son was capable of murder. Aguilar’s classmate, Tydryn Scott, was equally stunned. Scott said her friend was “Never upset, never sad, just quiet… If any other emotion, he was happy, laughing.”
As reported by New York Post, the the Columbia mall shooter’s motive remains unknown. However, police recovered a personal diary that may provide some clues. Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said the journal revealed Darion Aguilar “expressed general unhappiness with his life.”
Numerous document and belongings were removed from the home Aguilar shared with his mother. Authorities confirmed they confiscated ammunition, computers, and numerous documents. They hope the items will help them understand what prompted the shooting.
Although there are rumors that Aguilar and Benlolo were romantically involved, authorities have not confirmed any link between the suspect and either victim.
Zumiez CEO Rick Brooks said to the victims’ fellow employees. He also said the store is working with the mall to honor Benlolo and Johnson. When the mall reopens, guests will have an opportunity to view and sign memory books. Flowers will also be provided to place in the mall’s fountain as a memorial.
The Columbia mall shooter’s motive remains unknown. However, authorities hope the information they gathered will provide some insight about Darion Aguilar’s frame of mind.