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Young mother among victims of Maryland mall shooting

Police identify the shooter and the two victims, but still search for a motive and link between the trio.

The young mother of a 2-year-old is one of the victims killed Saturday in a shooting at a Maryland mall, a family member said.


Tyler Johnson, victim of shooting at The Mall in Columbia

Two employees of a skate shop died when a gunman armed with a shotgun opened fire in a shopping mall in Columbia, Md.

The gunman then apparently turned the gun on himself, taking his own life, police said. Five other people were injured. 

The employees were identified by police as Brianna Benlolo, 21, of College Park, Md., and Tyler Johnson, 25, of Mount Airy, Md. The male shooter, whose body was found nearby, had a shotgun and “a large amount of ammunition on and about him,” Howard County Chief of Police Bill McMahon said. 

Investigators said they have tentatively identified the shooter but did not release his name. Officials were due to update reporters at 9:30 ET. 

Police also said they disabled crude attempts at explosive devices inside the shooter's bag.

Benlolo and Johnson both worked at the mall's Zumiez store, which sold skate apparel and accessories. The shop conveyed their staff's condolences in a statement.

"The Zumiez team is a tight knit community and all of our hearts go out to Brianna and Tyler's families," CEO Rick Brooks said in the statement. 

Benlolo's grandfather, John Feins, told The Associated Press his granddaughter had a 2-year-old son and that the job at Zumiez was her first since giving birth.

"She was all excited because she was the manager there," he told the AP, adding that he didn't know who the gunman was or whether the person knew Brianna. 

"It's senseless. It's totally, totally senseless," Feins said. He said Brianna comes from a military family that had moved often. Before moving to Maryland about two years ago, they had lived in Colorado.   

Feins described his granddaughter's relationship with her son's father as good. He told the AP the two shared custody. 

"I mean what can you say? You go to work and make a dollar and you got some idiot coming in and blowing people away," Feins told the news agency. 

A friend of Benlolo, Paul Dorion Malcolm, 24, told Reuters the woman was a devoted mother. 

"I met a lot of young mothers that have kids, but I've never met a mom so devoted. She took that kid everywhere, when she wasn't working at Zumiez she was with her kid," Malcolm said. 

"Her energy was amazing: always upbeat, positive," Malcolm told Reuters, adding that he met Benlolo at the mall, where he used to work at a shoe store. 

Two federal law enforcement officials told NBC News the incident was a domestic situation, not a random shooting. However, McMahon said that Howard County Police "do not know yet whether this is a domestic incident." 

NBC News' Elisha Fieldstadt, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. 

A shooting at a shopping mall outside of Baltimore kills three and has police searching for a motive.


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