As the doors flung open at the Mall in Columbia two days after this weekend’s deadly shooting, one place connected to the incident stayed shuttered: the white barn-style house in College Park where officials say 19-year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar lived with his mother.
Reporters camped out in front of the house all morning and afternoon, hoping family members or anyone who knew the teen who fatally gunned down two people at the mall before shooting himself would be inside or come by the home. They rang the bell, left notes at the door and walked around the neighborhood looking for any hint that could explain how a young man whom friends have described as a quiet and a good person could be responsible for the violence in Columbia.
Neighbors were just as curious. Some in cars slowly drove past the house, craning their heads to stare at the property before speeding past news trucks.
“I was shocked,” said Francisco Gregorio, 72, who passed by the house a few times on a morning walk. Gregorio said he heard of the shooting on the news. “It was unbelievable.”
Gregorio and another neighbor, David Keer, said the house has long been a rental property, housing University of Maryland graduate students in the past. Residents refer to the neighborhood as “Hollywood on the Hill,” said Keer, who also knew little about the people who have lived in the home.
“I think I feel most for the 2-year-old of the girl who was killed,” said Keer, referring to the young son of victim Brianna Benlolo, 21.
Benlolo was slain along with Tyler Johnson, 25, in the shooting Saturday.
Police are trying to determine a motive. Law enforcement and public safety officials were at the house several times over the weekend: at least once to answer a missing persons report from Aguilar’s mother and again to sweep the house for possible explosives when police determined that he was the shooter.
In May, the Prince George’s fire department answered a call at the home for an unrelated accidental attic fire, officials said. Aguilar was home at the time the fire was being extinguished, Prince George’s County fire spokesman Mark Brady confirmed Monday.
“Nothing unusual was noted about any of the occupants’ behavior,” Brady said of the May fire, which he described as routine. With the sun dipping lower in the sky and the weather chilling, reporters remain at the end of Hollywood Road, looking for answers.
— Lynh Bui