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'Hug Each Other': Columbia Remembers Mall Shooting Victims

Community leaders, friends of victims shared memories and onlookers held candles outside Starbucks.

Columbia mall; Jan. 30, 2014.  (Credit: Elizabeth Janney)
Columbia mall; Jan. 30, 2014. (Credit: Elizabeth Janney)
People gathered outside the Columbia Town Center as the sun set Thursday to remember the victims of the mall shooting that left three dead over the weekend.

Police found the bodies of Brianna Benlolo, 21, of College Park, and Tyler Johnson, 25, of Mount Airy, inside the Zumiez store in the mall on Saturday. Nearby, the body of the man identified as the gunman, Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19, of College Park, was also found.

At the vigil on Thursday, the following speakers shared their memories and messages related to the victims:
  • Ashley Venable, senior general manager of the mall. "Their loss is the community's loss," Venable said of the victims. "Now we are here to help repair...the hearts of the community."
  • Rev. Robert Turner of St. John Baptist Church. "Help us as we try to deal with what happened ... as we face our mortality," Turner said.
  • Patric Centorbi, friend of Benlolo, said she was sweet and "amazing" as a friend and mother, bringing happiness to others.
  • Joan Webb Sconaienchi, executive director of Harford County Drug Free. "I ask you to live your life with love and hope and to be there each other. That's what Tyler would have done," Sconaienchi said. "Please hug each other with a 'Tyler hug' this week." She said he hugged people in a way that the recipient knew he meant it.
  • Rev. Father Ferdinand Ezenwachi, St. John Roman Catholic Church. "In the wake of our devastation ... we humbly lift our voices in prayer for the healing of mind, the healing of body, the healing of souls," Ezenwachi said. He specifically prayed for those who were psychologically disturbed to receive healing.
  • Rabbi Susan Grossman, Beth Shalom. "Dear God, confronted with so much violence in our world, with the senseless loss of precious life, we have no answers," Grossman said. "And so we turn to you."
The vigil ended at 5:22 p.m. following a moment of silence and the lighting of candles. Grief counselors wearing lanyards were stationed around the vigil area to support visitors.
jnrentz1 January 31, 2014 at 07:32 AM
What is a grief counselor?
DeDe January 31, 2014 at 04:19 PM
There seem to be more and more people that are suffering with dangerous mental illness that even their families don't know about until something terrible happens. Then it is too late, I don't know what the answer is. Maybe parents and children don't communicate anymore because everyone is on their cell phones and on their computers and they really don't know when their children are hurting and need help. Or everyone is just driving kids from one activity to another and not really having the time to be just a family.

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