Howard County Police said a 19-year-old who fatally shot two employees at a Maryland mall in January before taking his own life had a fixation on the 1999 Columbine High School shooting and that he posted a chilling message online moments before his rampage.
Chief William J. McMahon presented an elaborate timeline that included screenshots from surveillance video, photographs and writings from the shooter himself in advance of the Jan. 25 fatal shooting at The Mall in Columbia that took the lives of Brianna Benlolo, 21, of College Park, and Tyler Johnson, 25, of Mount Airy.
Among the most striking details was the disclosure that Darion Marcus Aguilar uploaded a photo to the social media website Tumblr of himself posing with a bandoleer and his shotgun that was taken in the dressing room of the store in which the killings took place moments before he fired the first shots. His post included a chilling message.
“I had to do this. Today is the day. On previous days I tried this I woke up with anxiety, regret and hope for a better future this day I didn’t, I woke up felt no emotions no empathy no sympathy. I will have freedom or maybe not. I could care less.”
“We’re not going to honor that intention,” he said.
Chief McMahon said that in January 2013 Aguilar experienced a “change in his life” and began visiting Internet websites detailing mass shootings, including the Columbine shooting in which 13 people were killed at a Colorado high school. He said Aguilar had played video games inspired by the Columbine shooting and that the time of the Maryland mall shooting, 11:14 a.m., coincided with the time of day at which the Columbine attack took place.
Authorities said that Aguilar in April told a physician he was hearing voices and that the physician reported they were not specific and nonviolent and referred him to a psychiatrist, but there was no evidence an appointment was made.
Chief McMahon provided more details about Aguilar’s journal, which he said was a roughly 20-page loosely-formed handwritten document in which Aguilar acknowledged he was mentally ill. Among the entries was one in which Aguilar wrote that he would kill people.
“I’m going to [expletive] kill you all in a couple of hours. I’m anxious. I hate you all so much. You are pathetic pieces of [expletive] who deserve to die. Worthless you are all [expletive] worthless.”
The police chief also noted the shooting could have been far worse. Aguilar brought with him 54 rounds of ammunition to the store but fired nine shots, including one in which he took his own life after putting the shotgun in his mouth.
Chief McMahon said Aguilar’s mother, with whom he lived, did not know about his plans or about the shotgun he bought a month before the killing. He said that another person accompanied Aguilar to a gun store to by ammunition, but that the other person also had no knowledge of Aguilar’s intentions.
The chief said detectives think Aguilar made an effort to erase some of the information on his computer, but that investigators have been able to reconstruct it.
“Our investigation has clearly shown that there is no connection between the shooter and the two young people whose lives he cut short,” he said.