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US mall gunman was an avid skater who had no criminal record prior to deadly attack

The home of Darion Marcus Aguilar of College Park, Md., is seen Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Police say Aguilar carried out Saturday’s attack with a shotgun at a skateboard shop at the Mall of Columbia before killing himself. Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said investigators are trying to determine whether Aguilar knew either of the victims and whether he had a criminal record. They offered no motive for the shooting. (AP Photo/Ben Nuckles)

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The home of Darion Marcus Aguilar of College Park, Md., is seen Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Police say Aguilar carried out Saturday’s attack with a shotgun at a skateboard shop at the Mall of Columbia before killing himself. Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said investigators are trying to determine whether Aguilar knew either of the victims and whether he had a criminal record. They offered no motive for the shooting. (AP Photo/Ben Nuckles)

COLUMBIA, Md. - The gunman who killed two people at a U.S. mall was a teenage skateboarding enthusiast who had no criminal record before he showed up at the shopping centre armed with a shotgun, plenty of ammunition and a backpack filled with crude homemade explosives, authorities said Sunday.

Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19, took a taxi to the Mall in suburban Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday morning and entered the building near Zumiez, a shop that sells skateboarding gear. He went downstairs to a food court directly below the store, then returned less than an hour later, dumped the backpack in a dressing room and started shooting, police said.

Shoppers fled in a panic or barricaded themselves behind closed doors. When police arrived, they found three people dead — two store employees and Aguilar, who had killed himself, authorities said.

The shooting baffled investigators and acquaintances of Aguilar, a quiet, skinny teenager who graduated from high school less than a year ago and had no previous run-ins with law enforcement. Police spent Sunday trying to piece together his motive, but it remained elusive.

Aguilar, who had concealed the shotgun in a bag, fired six to nine times. One victim, Brianna Benlolo, a 21-year-old single mother, lived near Aguilar, but police said they were still trying to determine what, if any, relationship they had.

The other employee, Tyler Johnson, did not know Aguilar and did not socialize with Benlolo outside of work, a relative said.

The police chief said there has been speculation about a romantic relationship between the gunman and Benlolo, but investigators have not been able to establish that.

Aguilar purchased the 12-gauge shotgun legally last month at a store in neighbouring county.

Five other people were hurt in the attack, but only one was hit by gunfire — a woman who was hit in the foot upstairs near Zumeiz. All were released from hospitals hours later.

The mall was to reopen Monday afternoon.

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Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko and Martin Di Caro in Washington, Eric Tucker in Columbia, Maryland, and Kasey Jones in Baltimore contributed to this report.

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