Columbia, Md. mall shooting adds to growing trend

Back to Article
Back to Article

Columbia, Md. mall shooting adds to growing trend

Baltimore Sun

Baltimore Sun

Baltimore Sun

2014 began with a not-so-fresh start: a contemporary American trend — mall shootings — continues to grow.

A shooting occurred on Jan. 25 at 11:15 a.m. within the Mall of Columbia in Columbia, Md. Panic spread through the mall when 19-year-old Darion Aguilar entered Zumiez, a skate store, and shot and killed two employees with a 12-gauge shotgun. Aguilar also shot and killed himself.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims, as well as the Columbia and Baltimore-area communities,” Ashley Venable, the mall’s senior general manager, told The Guilfordian in an email.

Last month, USA Today reported that in the past seven years 934 people have been killed in mass shootings. A crowd-sourced count on Reddit totaled 365 mass shootings (gun used, at least four people dead) in 2013 alone.

“It is interesting that we’ve had more of these shootings, and that says something about our society and something about our priorities,” said Jeremy Rinker, visiting assistant professor of peace & conflict studies.

Aguilar’s mother told CNN that her son was a “gentle, sweet kid.” The young man had had no previous run-ins with law enforcement. He bought his shotgun legally at the United Gun Shop in Rockville, Md. The store proprietor who sold Aguilar the gun, Cory Brown, mentioned to the Washington Post that Aguilar seemed to be the “ideal customer” and sparked no red flags.

A clear motive for Aguilar’s violent actions has yet to be discovered. Investigators found his journal containing entries that described “general unhappiness” but lacked the psychological behavior expected of a man planning to go on a shooting rampage.

Aguilar’s motive is not the only issue of public concern. Shoppers all over the nation are asking: exactly how safe are our malls?

“We have a public safety program that entails different measures for various scenarios,” said Venable. “Some are visible to our shoppers; other measures are not as visible.

“We’re constantly evaluating our security procedures to ensure the safety of everyone who walks through our doors.”

John, an employee at the Tailgators store in Four Seasons Mall, told The Guilfordian that the latest mall shooting at Four Seasons Mall occurred four to five years ago.

“Not since I’ve worked here, but there have definitely been some shootings in the mall,” John said. “Especially with the area around here — it’s not the greatest area in Greensboro.”

Debates on ways to enhance public safety continue, bringing into the spotlight other issues such as income gaps.

“Think about what the president said in his State of the Union address in terms of bridging the income gaps between people,” said Rinker. “Providing services for those who feel outcast by society could take care of issues of relative deprivation (feeling deprived after comparing one’s situation to that of others).”

Gun control is also considered.

“I’m a big Second Amendment guy, so I love the right to bear arms,” said John. “If more people were allowed to carry guns, there would be less gun violence because you don’t know who’s going to have a gun on them.

“Look at Chicago,” he continued. “They have the strictest gun laws and the highest murder rate per capita by firearms. Then (there are) towns like Kennesaw, Ga., where every household has to have a gun. They have the lowest crime rate in the country.”

After closing for two days in memory of the victims, The Mall of Columbia has reopened, signaling the beginning of a long healing process.

“The well-being of our shoppers is always our top priority, not just when events/tragedies like this occur,” said Venable. “I want to emphasize, safety and security are our priorities every day.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email