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Three Killed, Five Injured In Shooting at The Mall in Columbia

Three Killed, Five Injured In Shooting at The Mall in Columbia

From NBCWashington.com:

Three people were killed in a shooting at Columbia Mall in Howard County, Md. Saturday, and five were injured as crowds of weekend shoppers rushed to find shelter.

The suspect, a man, was among those found dead; he had apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Late Saturday, police said they had tentatively identified the shooter, though his name was not released.

His body was found near a shotgun and ammunition, police said. They also said the shooter also had a bag with two "crude" attempts at explosives in it.

Police identified the two killed as Brianna Benlolo, 21, of College Park, Md. and Tyler Johnson, 25, originally of Ellicott City, Md. and more recently of Mt. Airy, Md. Both were employees of Zumiez, a store on the upper level of the mall that caters to teen shoppers.

Zumiez issued a statement on its Facebook page Saturday evening expressing deep sadness over the shooting: "The Zumiez team is a tight knit community and all of our hearts go out to Brianna and Tyler’s families."

The mall remains a crime scene, and will be closed Sunday. Howard County Police said on their Facebook page that they will search of the mall using K-9 units through the night.

The shooting threw the popular mall into chaos. Witnesses described hearing the shots shortly after 11 a.m., and watching some victims fall, while others fled. 

"They just kept shooting and it didn't stop," said one witness.

She said she heard what sounded like "something being dropped" and then realized the sound was gunshots.

She rescued one child and then ran back to her job at a children's hair salon to secure the others.

"I work in Cartoon Cuts; I was downstairs getting a tea for my boss," she said. "And all of a sudden I heard ... it sounded like someone dropped something. And all of a sudden I see people fall, three people fall to the ground. I don't know what happened to them. And all I see is people going down to the floor and running.

"I just saw everybody run, so I ran."

Another shopper said he was in Sears when the shots rang out. "I heard a bang, and I was like man, that kinda sounds like a gunshot," said the young man.

"Then I see people running, and I hear some people screaming, and I heard it again -- boom, boom, boom. And people just started screaming and running. It was just complete madness."

Law enforcement sources told NBCNews that the shooting appears to have begun with a domestic dispute. However, Howard County Police have not confirmed that report, saying the motive remains unknown and they do not know the identity of the shooter.

None of the shots came from police, said Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon.

The five people who were injured were transported to Howard County General Hospital. One victim suffered a gunshot wound to the foot. The other four had medical conditions or minor injuries, possibly related to the rush as shoppers ran for shelter.

The injured have been treated and released, according to the hospital.

Another eyewitness, a young woman, said she was in a PacSun store when the shooting happened: "We just heard gunshots, and then this lady came into the store and said there's a guy with a gun ... Me and my friend just ran in the back room.

"We were crying and we were just scared out of our minds, because our thought was that we were going to get shot."

News4 spoke to one man who said he was in phone contact with his daughter, who was taking shelter in a Bank of America inside the mall, along with dozens of others.

"People were panicking," the man said.

The mall, which is officially named "The Mall in Columbia" but is widely known as Columbia Mall, is located in Columbia, Md., between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

The shooting was the latest in a series of shootings in public locations. Earlier this week, one person was shot and killed at Purdue University and another was also killed at South Carolina State University.

 

 

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