COLUMBIA, Md. – A man carrying a shotgun opened fire at a busy shopping mall in suburban Baltimore on Saturday, killing two employees of a skate shop and then himself as panicked shoppers ran for cover, police said. Five others were injured.
Police were still trying to determine the motive of the gunman who killed a man and a woman, both in their 20s, at a skate shop called Zumiez on the upper level of the Mall in Columbia.
Witnesses described hearing gunshots and screams as shoppers ducked into nearby stores and hid behind locked doors. Many found cover in stockrooms and barricaded themselves until the arrival of police, who searched store to store. By late afternoon, the mall had been cleared of shoppers and employees.
Howard County police Chief William McMahon said authorities had difficulty identifying the gunman because of concerns he was carrying explosives and were proceeding with an “abundance of caution.” By late Saturday, police said they had tentatively identified the gunman but declined to release his name while they followed up on leads.
“We do not know yet what caused the shooting incident,” he said. “We do not have a motive.”
A news release Saturday night said that police found and disabled “two crude devices that appeared to be an attempt at making explosives using fireworks.”
Someone called 911 at around 11:15 a.m. to report a shooting at the mall. Police responded to the scene within 2 minutes and found three people dead – including the apparent gunman – either inside or outside the shop, which sells skateboards, clothing and accessories.
Police identified the victims as 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo, of College Park, Md., and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson, of Ellicott City, Md. Both worked at Zumiez.
Howard County General Hospital said it had treated and released five patients, including one with a gunshot wound.