COLUMBIA, Md. - The gunman in a deadly shooting earlier this year at a mall in Columbia, Md. had an obsession with the Columbine High School shooting, which was evident through searches of his computer and what he was wearing on the day of the attack, police said Wednesday.
Authorities say Darion Aguilar, 19, used a 12-gauge shotgun to randomly kill two employees of Zumiez, a skateboard gear shop, before taking his own life inside the Mall in Columbia on Jan. 25.
The shooting took place at 11:15 a.m.; the Columbine attack began at around 11:14 a.m. on April 20, 1999, Howard County Police Chief William McMahon pointed out Wednesday.
McMahon said Aguilar had no connection to the victims, 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo of College Park, and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson of Mount Airy, Md.
McMahon also said that Aguilar took a picture of himself inside the dressing room at Zumiez in the minutes before the shooting and posted the photo to the blog Tumblr with a caption reading, "I had to do this. Today is the day. On previous days I tried this I woke up with anxiety, regret and hope for a better future this day I didn't, I woke up felt no emotions no empathy no sympathy. I will have freedom or maybe not. I could care less."
McMahon said Aguilar was wearing cargo pants and boots and that he was dressed like one of the killers in the Columbine shooting. For that reason, McMahon said, authorities are not releasing the photo.
"We believe he took [the photo] in an effort to gain notoriety, that he intended for us to find it and that we would display it in a public setting to bring him fame and notoriety. We're not going to honor that intention," the police chief said.
McMahon said that during the investigation into the shooting, authorities determined Aguilar had visited websites devoted to many different mass shootings, including those at schools and malls, in the year leading up to the shooting in Columbia. McMahon said it was apparent Aguilar had a "fascination with Columbine" and downloaded a computer game where one could pretend to be one of the Columbine shooters.
Aguilar had also researched explosive devices, guns and gun stores, mental health issues and suicide chat lines leading up to the shooting, McMahon said.
In April 2013, Aguilar visited a doctor and said he had been hearing voices. The doctor referred Aguilar to a psychiatrist, but it appears as though Aguilar was never seen by a mental health professional, the police chief said.
Aguilar's journal - which contained 20 pages of writing dated between Jan. 2013 and Jan. 2014 - also shed light into his condition prior to the shooting. McMahon said Aguilar had documented thoughts of suicide, feeling empty and sad, the feeling that he needed a psychiatrist and that he had contemplated death and killing.
He also wrote in his journal that his plan is set, McMahon said, and that he was ready to die and that he was going to kill people.
"I'm going to [expletive] kill you all in a couple hours I'm anxious, I hate you all so much you are pathetic pieces of [expletive] who deserve to die. Worthless you all are [expletive] worthless. Everything seems fake. I think that I may already be dead," one journal entry read, according to McMahon.
The police chief said that Aguilar's acquaintances and his parents were taken back by his involvement in the shooting and that it appears as though no one knew of his plans.