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Maryland police say mall gunman wrote about killing people in journal

Published January 29, 2014 6:50 pm

Murder • Teen revealed that he thought he needed mental-health help.
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Washington • 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 Saturday at the Mall in Columbia, 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, but 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 over a year, 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 the rampage.

Ellis Cropper, a family spokesman, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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.

A police officer found the journal at Aguilar's home in College Park after his mother filed a missing person's report after her son didn't show up for work.

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, 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.

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.