COLUMBIA: A gunman carrying homemade explosives shot dead two people at a popular shopping mall near Washington on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) before killing himself, United States (US) police said.
Investigators were grappling for a motive but said that they had “tentatively identified” the gunman, who had “a large amount of ammunition” still on and around him when officers found his body in a store alongside the two victims at the upscale Columbia Mall in Maryland.
“Because of concerns about any other weapons he may have or explosives, we are approaching this with an abundance of caution,” Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon said.
“We’re getting assistance from some of our federal partners and making sure there are no explosives on the body of the deceased.”
Police later tweeted that a search of the gunman’s bag turned up two crude devices “that appeared to be attempt at making explosives. Both disabled.”
They did not immediately reveal the identity of the gunman—who they said appeared to have killed himself with a shotgun—and special units continued to comb the mall late into the night.
First responders were alerted to mid-morning gunfire at the mall, a favorite weekend spot for young families about 45 minutes outside downtown Washington, by an emergency police call indicating shots had been fired inside the two-story shopping center.
Badly shaken shoppers described how they fled in panic or cowered in store doorways. Some made frantic calls to loved ones, as the United States reeled from the latest in a slew of gun-related rampages.
Police identified the victims as Brianna Benlolo, 21, of College Park, Maryland and Tyler Johnson, 25, of Ellicott City, Maryland. Both were employees of skateboard store Zumiez.
Howard County General Hospital said all five injured shooting victims have been treated and released. One had suffered a gunshot wound to a foot.
The mall of about 200 stores, which has an indoor carousel and play area, is a favored weekend destination for young and old alike.