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Friends Hold Skate Event For Mall Shooting Victims

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Brianna Benlolo, Tyler Johnson

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COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — Saturday marks one week since a deadly shooting inside the Mall in Columbia. Friends, family and even strangers gathered to honor the victims.

Monique Griego reports on the somber events.

While the store where the shooting took place remains closed, that didn’t stop friends from gathering outside to honor the victims.

One week after a deadly shooting at the Mall in Columbia claimed the lives of two young people, crowds gathered to honor their memory with sentimental notes and a moment of silence.

It happened at 11:15 a.m.–the exact moment gunmen Darion Aguilar opened fire inside Zumiez skate shop, killing employees Tyler Johnson and Brianna Benlolo and then himself.

“Very sweet, very energetic, passionate, excellent mother. When she wasn’t working she was with her kid,” said Benlolo’s friend, Paul Malcolm.

Hours later in Ellicott City, Benlolo’s friends, Paul Malcolm and Tyler Bohn, held a skate event at Centennial Park to celebrate the victims’ lives.

Bohn got to know Benlolo during his time working with her at Zumiez, but says he also wanted to make sure Johnson wasn’t forgotten.

“I didn’t know him as well as Bri, but I heard he helped a lot in the community,” he said.

The organizers of the event say they wanted to hold it because Columbia just isn’t the same and they wanted to do something positive for the community.

“If this helps people move on, not move on in the sense of forgetting, but moving on as a community,” Bohn said.

Many of the attendees didn’t even know the victims.

“It’s a tragedy when young people have to be killed in such a fashion,” said Larry Harrison.

“I just felt that they have this thing going on and if you can show your support then you should do it,” said Matilda Malm.

There are still a lot of questions regarding the shooting and motive of Aguilar. While his journal entries revealed he wanted to die and had hatred toward others, police still don’t know if he knew the victims.

For their friends, that’s not important.

“I’m just at a loss because they’re gone. Rumor this, rumor that. You know what, it doesn’t matter. We lost some good people,” Malcolm said.

While police haven’t given an exact motive, they have said Aguilar was a skateboarder that frequented the mall.

Memorial funds have been set up in the names of the victims.

The “Brianna Benlolo Memorial Fund” will benefit Brianna’s son and will be set up as a trust to provide for his future health, education, support and maintenance. Contributions can be made at any Wells Fargo branch by referencing the Brianna Benlolo Memorial Fund or can be made by mailing a check to: The Brianna Benlolo Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 1353 , Lynnwood, WA 98046

The “Tyler Johnson Memorial Fund” will benefit the Community Foundation of Howard County. Donations can be made care of: The Tyler Johnson Memorial Fund, 10630 Little Patuxent Parkway, Century Plaza, Suite 315, Columbia, MD 21044 and online at www.cfhoco.org/give/donate/foundation.

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