- Associated Press - Sunday, January 26, 2014

Maryland mall gunman was an avid skater who had no criminal record prior to deadly attack

COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) - The gunman who killed two people at a Maryland mall was a teenage skateboarding enthusiast who had no criminal record before he showed up at the shopping center armed with a shotgun, plenty of ammunition and a backpack filled with crude homemade explosives, authorities said Sunday.

Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19, took a taxi to the Mall in Columbia in suburban Baltimore on Saturday morning and entered the building near Zumiez, a shop that sells skateboarding gear. He went downstairs to a food court directly below the store, then returned less than an hour later, dumped the backpack in a dressing room and started shooting, police said.

Shoppers fled in a panic or barricaded themselves behind closed doors. When police arrived, they found three people dead - two store employees and Aguilar, who had killed himself, authorities said.


The shooting baffled investigators and acquaintances of Aguilar, a quiet, skinny teenager who graduated from high school less than a year ago and had no previous run-ins with law enforcement. Police spent Sunday trying to piece together his motive, but it remained elusive.

Aguilar, who had concealed the shotgun in a bag, fired six to nine times. One victim, Brianna Benlolo, a 21-year-old single mother, lived half a mile away from Aguilar in the same College Park neighborhood, but police said they were still trying to determine what, if any, relationship they had.

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Top White House advisers warn Congress that Obama could go around them if agenda stalls again

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama will work with Congress where he can and circumvent lawmakers where he must, his top advisers warned Sunday in previewing Tuesday’s State of the Union speech.

Obama faces a politically divided Congress on Tuesday and will use his annual address to demand expanded economic opportunity. Absent legislative action, the White House is telling lawmakers that the president is ready to take unilateral action to close the gap between rich and poor Americans.

“I think the way we have to think about this year is we have a divided government,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a longtime Obama adviser. “The Republican Congress is not going to rubber-stamp the president’s agenda. The president is not going to sign the Republican Congress‘ agenda.”

So the White House is eyeing compromise on some priorities, Obama advisers said. But the president is also looking at executive orders that can be enacted without Congress‘ approval.

“The president sees this as a year of action to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

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SHOW BITS: Lights, camera, showtime!

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