Memorial Tiles Pay Tribute to Employees Murdered at Zumiez

The store at The Mall in Columbia reopened Monday.

Zumiez and The Mall in Columbia hosted a media session Tuesday, one day after the store reopened. (Credit: Elizabeth Janney)
Zumiez and The Mall in Columbia hosted a media session Tuesday, one day after the store reopened. (Credit: Elizabeth Janney)
The store where a 19-year-old gunned down two employees before killing himself at The Mall in Columbia has reopened, and the victims are remembered in a subtle tribute as visitors enter the shop.

"After consulting with our employees and the victims' families, we decided to completely remodel and reopen the store," according to a statement from Zumiez,  the surf and skate shop on the second level of the Columbia mall where the Jan. 25 shootings occurred.

"The remodeled store quietly recognizes Brianna and Tyler with two simple tiles that bear their initials: 'B' and 'T,'" the statement said.

The "T" for Tyler Johnson , 25, was placed outside the store. The tile for Brianna Benlolo, 21, was inside the store.

"We all continue to keep the victims and their families in our hearts and, together, remember and honor them in many ways," Zumiez said in the statement. "The tremendous love and support for all those impacted is incredibly powerful. Indeed, people continue to make contributions to the two memorial funds established in honor of Tyler and Brianna."

The Brianna Benlolo Memorial Fund will provide support for her son, who is a toddler, while the Tyler Johnson Memorial Fund will go to the Community Foundation of Howard County, according to Zumiez.

Police said that the motive of the shooter, Darion Aguilar, 19, was unknown but that "it seems to investigators that his actions were driven by a fixation on violence and mass murder," according to Sherry Llewellyn, spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department.

ECskater May 20, 2014 at 12:04 PM
Tiles? That's it? These kids were randomly and brutally murdered, and all they get are tiles with their first initial? Not even their entire names! You have got to be kidding me. While I didn't know either of the victims, as a member of the local skate community, I'm furious and disappointed that this is all Zumiez and the Columbia Mall have done to remember the victims: tiles that people are just going to walk on. How insulting to their memories and families.
Ben Schumin May 30, 2014 at 08:44 PM
I'm surprised that they did that much. For an extremely valuable retail property, which Columbia Mall is, there were really only two realistic options: either reopen the store (with or without a remodel), or vacate the location and another store opens there. The memorial is simple and tasteful, and I have no problems with it. After all, this is still primarily a place of business. And also realize that this memorial will only be there as long as Zumiez is the tenant there. When Zumiez departs or relocates, this memorial will most likely be removed.


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