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Howard County Police Provide Updates on Columbia Mall Shooting [FULL PRESSER]
Updated: Wednesday, March 12 2014, 04:22 PM EDT
The Columbia Mall shooter began looking up "very violent" and disturbing images online in January 2013, continuing up until the day of the shooting, January 25, 2014, police revealed on Wednesday.
Darion Marcus Aguilar researched sites that dealt with anarchy and mass shootings and "showed a particular fascination with the Columbine shooting," Howard County Police Chief McMahon said, even downloading a video game based on the Columbine shooting, in which players can assume the role of the shooter.
It also emerged that just prior to the shooting Aguilar took a photo of himself armed in the dressing room of Zumiez, the store where both his victims worked. He uploaded the shot to Tumblr writing, "I had to do this. Today is the day. On previous days I tried this I work 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 may not. I could care less."
According to police, one minute after posting the photo he stepped out of the dressing room, shot Brianna Benlolo once, then shot Tyler Johnson multiple times by the front of the store. The police chief stressed that there was "no connection" between the shooter and his victims.
Aguilar then stepped out of the store and fired two shots across the mall on the upper railing. One struck a railing while the other struck a woman in the heel. He then turned towards the food court, fired one shot and struck a wall right outside the Great American Cookie store, very narrowly missing more victims.
Next Aguilar turned back to Zumiez and fired through the glass at a mannequin before re-entering Zumiez, sticking the shotgun in his mouth and shooting himself.
A total of nine shots were fired by Aguilar, out of the 54 rounds of ammunition he brought with him. The backpack he had with him contained homemade explosives, most likely made with fireworks, but were not powerful enough to cause major structural damage, police said.
A journal later recovered at Aguilar's home following the shooting was described as disjointed and not well-coordinated but one excerpt provided by police reads;
"I was 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. Everything seems fake. I think that I may already be dead."
Police noted that Aguilar acknowledged in the journal that he needed to see a psychiatrist.
In April 2013 Aguilar went to a physician for a medical condition and while he was being treated he told doctors he was hearing voices. According to police the doctor's notes describe them as being nonspecific, nonviolent and not directing him to doing anything. While the doctor made a referral to a mental health professional police say there is no evidence that he was seen by a mental health professional. Web searches recovered by forensics show that Aguilar was visiting suicide chat lines and websites that dealt with mental health issues.
"He knows he has something going on that needs to be dealt with," McMahon said.
By the fall/winter of 2013 police say Aguilar moved from a searching and research phase into more of an "action phase," where he begins to purchase supplies and ammunition. His shotgun was purchased December 10, 2013 from the United Gun Shop in Rockville. It was a legal purchase and he was alone at the time of the purchase.
Police said the shooting "is still an open investigation." McMahon noted, "Unfortunately the shooter is the only one who can answer many of these questions."