COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — Inside the mind of a killer. Howard County Police release new details about what Darion Aguilar wrote in his journal days before shooting and killing two people inside the Mall in Columbia.
Mike Hellgren has more.
That journal is key to understanding his mindset and understanding the motive.
Here are some of the highlights: That he apologized to his family for what he was about to do, that he wrote he was ready to die, that he wanted to die and hated others. He never mentioned to his family that he needed any help for his mental illness. While he talks about killing people, he never gave any specific targets.
And while those journal entries were sporadic over the past year, we were also tracking his final hours leading up to the murders. WJZ is learning more about what led up to the murders at the Mall in Columbia.
We know Darion Aguilar was very familiar with the mall; he came there frequently.
Police confirm Darion Aguilar took his shotgun apart and reassembled it inside the dressing room at Zumiez. It’s conspicuous–almost three feet long.
But investigators say there were no cameras inside the store–nothing that captured the killings of employees Tyler Johnson and Briana Benlolo.
According to police and published reports, Aguilar’s final morning alive unfolded this way: Starting at his home in College Park.
He left, telling his mom he was headed to work at Dunkin’ Donuts, not far away, but never showed up. Instead, he went 11 miles northwest to Burtonsville, where a cab driver picked him up at a Wendy’s. The cab driver’s friend says he wore a hoodie and was quiet.
“While he was driving he would not make eye contact with him,” said Azim Bello, cab driver’s friend.
But why would he come to Wendy’s and how did he get there?
They got on Route 29 and headed for the Mall in Columbia. The ride took about 25 minutes. Aguilar paid cash and left an almost 50 percent tip.
“He gave him a 40… two 20s,” Bello said. “And he says ‘keep the change’ and he left. He just dropped somebody down at Columbia Mall with a backpack and it looks heavy.”
That heavy backpack contained the gun and several crude explosives. To date, police do not yet have a motive.
Police say the woman shot in the foot outside the Zumiez store was 49-year-old Susan Straumanis from Hanover.
But WJZ is uncovering more about a journal Aguilar left at his home. Police say it reveals he knew he was having mental health issues and gives no insight into whether he knew the victims.
Sources say it also shows a hatred of certain groups and a general unhappiness with life.
Police say that journal never lays out the specific plan and it never mentioned ever targeting specific ethnic groups or targeting specific locations.
Also, WJZ has obtained the missing persons report his mother filed in Prince George’s County. It shows he was wearing blue jeans at the time. He was wearing khakis when he carried out the murders, so he likely changed clothes before coming to the mall.
Police have put up several fliers at the mall. They continue to seek information from anyone who saw Aguilar there.
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