Words: Amy Myers and Emma Harring
Around 11:15 on Saturday, Jan. 25, a shooting took place inside of the Columbia Mall, leaving two victims and the shooter dead. Victims Tyler Johnson (age 25) and Brianna Benlolo (age 21) were both employed at the Zumiez store where the incident took place.
Wingspan has confirmed with Howard County Public Schools that Tyler Johnson was a Centennial High School student.
Mitch Koehler, a Centennial alumnus from 2007, lived down the street from Johnson, who would drive Koehler to school. “After we graduated we would hang out in front of our houses just chatting and skating,” Koehler said.
Koehler, as well as several other Centennial graduates, posted their condolences on Johnson’s Facebook profile and expressed their shock and sorrow.
“In all honesty,” Koehler began, “as soon as I heard about the shooting I was pretty mad because this stuff keeps happening and as a gun owner and hunter these things [affect us] because the state has been changing laws about guns. But as soon as I heard it was Tyler my outlook completely changed. I wondered how? Why? What happened? How is his family doing? Things like that. I was pretty upset. Tyler was a good kid. He went through his troubles like we all do but last I talked to him he was doing much better and seemed really happy about it. He had a lot of friends and was always good to talk to or get a laugh out of. He’ll be missed by many.”
As part of the Centennial community, the Wingspan team sends its deepest condolences to Johnson, his family, and others involved.