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Memorial Fund Honors Columbia Mall Shooting Victim

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COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — Always remembered. One of the victims of the Columbia mall shooting gets a memorial fund in his name. Tyler Johnson lost his life back in January when a 19-year-old customer opened fire at the mall.

Gigi Barnett explains how the fund will help other survivors.

Days after the shooting death of 25-year-old Tyler Johnson and his coworker, 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo, were slain in the Columbia Mall, support and donations poured in.

“It could have been us in there. It’s just so close to home,” Julie Erickson said.

“This happened to the community and kind of in some ways happened to all of us. It’s just a very, very sad and tragic story,” said Daniel Medinger.

Nearly 200 people from around the state and country sent in about $20,000 to create a temporary endowment in Johnson’s name through the Community Foundation of Howard County.

“We were amazed at how many people from all over the country that didn’t know the family responded and really wanted to do something to help and make a difference,” said Debbie Deskaloff, Community Foundation of Howard County development director.

Now Johnson’s friends and family want to make the memorial endowment permanent.

Deskaloff manages the endowment at the Community Foundation. She says there are several nonprofit groups that Johnson’s family wants to focus on–those that support tougher gun control legislation and addiction therapy because Johnson was a recovering addict.

“It was such a wonderful thing that the Johnson family did to honor Tyler,” Deskaloff said. “To choose to give back to the community and to make the community a better place.”

The fund will also support nonprofit groups that deal with mental health because, according to police, the 19-year-old shooter who killed Johnson suffered from mental health issues and did not seek treatment.

If you’d like to donate, click here.

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