Columbia Mall shooting: Cab driver dropped off Aguilar, recounts experience
(WJLA) - Shoppers and mall workers continue to stop at the memorials for Columbia Mall shooting victims Brianna Benlolo and Tyler Johnson. There are flowers and notes and photos, and many pause to say that what happened has affected them deeply:
"I didn't even know them," says mourner Pam Mason. "You don't have to know them."
The criminal investigation into the mall shooting is now focusing on everything 19-year-old gunman Darion Aguilar did leading up to his attack. Police are looking at his cell phone records, his computer, and his financial transactions in the days and weeks leading up to his murderous attack and suicide Saturday morning.
We already know he spent more than $500 cash on his shotgun and ammunition. His final transaction may have been paying the cab driver he called for a ride to the mall:
"It was $24 or $27, [but] he gave him $40 -- two twenties," says Azim Bello.
Bello is a taxi driver who says his close friend and fellow driver – who does not want to be identified – picked up Aguilar at a Wendy’s on Briggs Chaney Road in Silver Spring on Saturday morning. Aguilar was reportedly wearing a hoodie and was behaving perfectly normally.
But towards the end of the one-mile trip, Aguilar seemed in a hurry to get out of the car.
"He said keep the change and he left," describes Bello.
Then a few hours later after the shooting, the cab driver was horrified when he thought about that fare and immediately called Azim Bello to tell him what had happened.
"He just dropped somebody down at Columbia Mall with a backpack and it looked heavy," recounts Bello.
The driver had no idea that Aguilar’s heavy backpack contained a shotgun, shells, and pair of crude low power bombs. But he called police with his fears and later they were confirmed – he himself had delivered Aguilar to the mall.