Columbia Mall Zumiez Employee: 'She Was One of the Nicest People I've Ever Met'

Ian McIntosh described a slain co-worker and said the employees of the store "were like a family."

Ian McIntosh, 20, said he was an employee at the Zumiez store where the Columbia Mall shooting on Saturday centered. On Monday he sat along near a memorial to the victims inside the mall. Credit: Andrew Metcalf
Ian McIntosh, 20, said he was an employee at the Zumiez store where the Columbia Mall shooting on Saturday centered. On Monday he sat along near a memorial to the victims inside the mall. Credit: Andrew Metcalf
By A.J. Metcalf

Ian McIntosh sat quietly near Center Court at the Mall in Columbia on Monday. His head was bowed and he occasionally wiped away tears.

He wore a black leather jacket and stared into the pool at his feet where a makeshift memorial had been set up for the two Zumiez employees who were killed by a gunman Saturday morning at the mall.

McIntosh, 20, of Severn, said he worked at the Zumiez store where Brianna Benlolo, 21, the store's assistant manager, and Tyler Johnson, 25, a store employee, were killed. He said he was hired two months ago by Benlolo.

"I was scheduled to work later that day," said McIntosh. "When I heard about the shooting, I didn't know at first it was at Zumiez."

He said he was devastated when he found out Benlolo and Johnson had been killed. McIntosh said he had never seen the man identified by police as the gunman, Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19. Police said Aguilar turned his shotgun on himself after killing Benlolo, of College Park, and Johnson, of Mount Airy. Police have not determined a motive in the shooting.

"I just want to know why he did it," said McIntosh. "Of all the stores and the people in the mall, why them?"

He said the employees of the skate and surf shop "were like a family, everybody was close or friendly."

"I knew Brianna for a year and a half," said McIntosh. He said before he was hired at the store, he would frequent it and talk to her.

"She was the main reason that I even got hired. It was because she bugged the managers so much they hired me.

"She was one of the nicest people I've ever met; she was so kind to everyone."

McIntosh said Benlolo brought her 2-year-old son into the store a couple of times.

"She was saying she couldn't wait until he got older so they could skate together," said McIntosh, as he choked back tears. He described Benlolo as a skater who loved her job.

He said he didn't know Johnson that well, but that, he "was a really nice guy, really cool."

Zumeiz CEO Rick Brooks issued a statement on Saturday that said, "We are deeply saddened by the violence that has occurred this morning within our store in Maryland at The Mall in Columbia. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families."

In the statement, Brooks said the company was making arrangements for counseling to be made available to Zumiez employees in the area.

McIntosh said he didn't know whether the store would reopen but he would return to work if it does.

"I loved working there," said McIntosh.

Currently the second floor store has large white walls surrounding its entrance with a typed message reading, "Zumiez is closed until further notice. In loving memory of Brianna Benlolo and Tyler Johnson, please express your messages of hope and encouragement at the Mall's Center Court."

People who knew Aguilar described him as a quiet, gentle person. In an interview with WNEW, Aguilar's mother said he became a vegetarian after watching a PETA documentary and that she never knew him to be interested in guns.

Police said Monday afternoon they're continuing to investigate the shooting and have not determined a motive or relationship between the victims and the shooter. Monday, with the mall reopening, it was "about getting back to some sense of normal," according to police spokesperson Sherry Llewellyn.

Related Coverage

No Known Motive in Deadly Shooting as Columbia Mall Prepares to Reopen Monday

3 Dead in Shooting at Columbia Mall, Gunman Identified

19-Year-Old College Park Man Identified as Columbia Mall Shooter

Witnesses Describe Gunshots, Chaos in Columbia Mall Shooting

Zumiez CEO Issues Statement on Shooting


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