By ERIC TUCKER | Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – The gunman in a deadly attack at a
Maryland shopping mall wrote in general terms about killing people in
his journal and said that he was ready to die, police said Wednesday in
releasing new details about writings the shooter left behind.
Darion Aguilar did not mention targeting specific
people, groups or locations but expressed in his journal “a general
hatred of others,” the Howard County police department said on its
Twitter account. He apologized to his family for what he was planning to
do and wrote that his plan was set, but did not specify what that
meant, police said. He also revealed that he thought he needed to see a
mental health professional but had not told his family.
Police say the 19-year-old Aguilar killed two
employees of a skateboard gear shop on Saturday at the Mall in Columbia
and then took his own life.
Detectives have been analyzing Aguilar's cellphone,
computer, financial records and journal in hopes of coming up with a
motive, though answers so far have been elusive and police say they've
found no connection between Aguilar and his victims. Aguilar had no
prior criminal record.
The police description of the journal entries,
written sporadically over a one-year period, provides some clues though
not a complete explanation for what set off the shooting. It does not,
for instance, resolve questions of why Aguilar fatally shot the two
employees – 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson –
or how he came to select Zumiez, a shop that sells skateboard gear, for
“Aguilar mentions killing people, but in general
terms. He does not mention the victims, or any other specific person,”
police wrote on Twitter.
Ellis Cropper, a family friend who has been serving
as a spokesman for the family, did not immediately return a call
Police have said Aguilar frequented the mall and
was known to hang out outside and smoke in small groups. He had never
worked at the store or sought a job there, a spokeswoman for the company
said Wednesday. Aguilar, described by friends as an avid skateboarder,
graduated from high school last spring and was working at a nearby
Dunkin' Donuts, where he had been expected on the day of the shooting.
On Saturday, police say, he took a taxi to the
shopping center, carrying plentiful ammunition and a shotgun concealed
in a backpack along with crude homemade explosives. Police found the
bodies of Aguilar and the two victims after arriving.
A police officer found the journal at Aguilar's
home in College Park after his mother filed a missing person's report
when her son didn't show up for work. Authorities have previously said
the writing in the journal was enough to make the officer fear for
Aguilar's safety. His cellphone was tracked to the Columbia mall.
Also Wednesday, police revealed new details about
the shooting itself, saying that Aguilar assembled a broken down shotgun
in the dressing room of the store and then opened fire after he exited
the room. Police have said he fired between six and nine times in and
around the store, including one shot that struck a woman who was near
the store in the foot and one that hit the wall in the first-floor food
Aguilar legally purchased the 12-gauge shotgun last
month along with several boxes of ammunition. Owners of the shop that
sold him the gun have said he raised no red flags.
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