January 28, 2014

The Columbia Mall shooting makes sense

                On January 25th, Damion Marcus Aguilar, a 19-year-old disaffected recent high school graduate walked into the Columbia Mall in affluent Columbia Maryland and opened fire at a Zumiez store. He killed 3 people, including himself, and wounded 5 more.

                Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley released a statement that read in part “On behalf of the people of Maryland, I want to express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and all those affected by this senseless act…”


                This act of violence was NOT senseless. It makes, and made, perfect sense! At least to Aguliar. To normal people it doesn’t make sense to anyone. From the Governor, to the media, to the shoppers who were scared out of their wits and will be for months or years, and anyone who refuses to see the vulnerabilities in our security systems and their own sensibilities.


                Aguilar is one of those people who had a distorted view of the world and a real perception of reality. His journals show a person who was alienated, disaffected, and a loner. What does this say about him? A whole lot. If the journals are ever released, we will have a clear picture of what pushed this bright teenager on the path to murdering random, supposedly, employees at a Zumiez. The key is that while 99% of all people believe that the violence was senseless, to Aguilar it made perfect sense. In his mind, he knew that this was the way out of his seemingly trapped existence.

                Remember the phrase I trumpet? PERCEPTION IS Reality. This is what he had in his mind. His perceptions shaped his world, no matter how warped we think it was.  And he was stuck in that pit of perception.

                Being realistic, if someone has the perception that everyone is out to get them and there are assassins around every corner waiting to ambush them, there is nothing we can do to change that perception. At least not without either drugs or massive amounts of psychiatric treatment.

                If you look at every incident of WPV over the past 30 years, the perpetrators had a perception of the world. And literally no one could dissuade them of their perceptions. Whether that perception be of persecution, stalking, or whatever it was there, and in their mind it was perfectly acceptable to do what they did.

                So was this a senseless act? To us perhaps. To Aguilar it made perfect sense to take other people with him when he went out in a ‘blaze of glory’. Did he have remorse after killing 2 and wounding 5 others? I believe he did, because he had much more ammunition and crude bombs with him, just another sad commentary to this incident, a moment of clarity after the foul deed was done.


            Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace/school violence prevention. He has appeared in more than 130 media outlets in the past 30 years of being in the field and 22 studying, writing, and speaking about WPV/SV.

            He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or visit his website at;


www.Facebook.com/OneistooMany to see incidents of WPV/SV; you may not have seen or thought about.