Zumiez, a Columbia Mall skateboard and snowboard apparel store, has reopened nearly four months after it was the scene of a double homicide of two mall employees during an apparent shooting rampage.
The store has been closed since Jan. 25 when, police said, Tyler Johnson 25, and Briana Benlolo 21, were killed by Darion Aguilar, 19, who went on a shooting spree at the Maryland mall after entering the dressing room of the store and assembling a shotgun hidden in his backpack. Aguilar died at the scene, police said, from an apparently self-inflicted shotgun wound.
The mall reopened a few days later, but the Zumiez store remained boarded up until May 19. The store has been remodeled. But even after several memorials and vigils in honor of the victims, Zumiez managers contacted the victims’ families before reopening.
Zumiez officials said in a statement “We all continue to keep the victims and their families in our hearts and together remember and honor them in many ways,” according to WBAL TV.
As part of the remodeling, store officials said, “quietly recognizes Brianna and Tyler with two simple tiles that bear their initials: ‘B’ and ‘T.’ ”
Reaction among mall customers to the reopening was mixed. Tony Ramelmeir, 17, a Columbia who had just left the mall before the shooting, said he understands the need for it to be opened. “Maybe it closed for a year or two or a whole season, but if they feel it’s the right time then it’s the right time,” said Ramelmeir.
Karra Winnard 22, a Marriottsville resident, said she is a regular shopper at the mall and is happy to see the store open again. “I definitely think it needed to be reopened. I think for the store’s sake they couldn’t keep it closed forever because something happened, but I’m kind of glad it’s reopened. I was sad when it was closed, but understood why,” said Winnard.
Following an investigation, Howard County police concluded that Aguilar was a troubled young man. Police said that Aguilar said in a journal that he had been suffering from what he believed were symptoms of mental illness.
Police said he was fixated on the 1999 shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., a shooting rampage that he wanted to emulate.
According to wusa9.com, two memorial funds were set up in honor of the shooting victims.
For more information go to http://www.zumiez.com/memorial-fund.