In brief | Nation & World, January 27, 2014


Md. mall gunman was an avid skater, graduate with no criminal record

COLUMBIA, Md. — The 19-year-old Maryland mall gunman was a skateboarding enthusiast who took a taxi to the mall, carrying a 12-gauge shotgun he’d purchased legally a month earlier, plenty of ammunition and some crude homemade explosives inside a backpack, authorities said.

Darion Marcus Aguliar entered the Mall in Columbia around 10:15 a.m. Saturday near Zumiez, a shop that sells skateboarding gear, and went downstairs to a food court directly below. Less than an hour later, he returned to the store, dumped the backpack in a dressing room and then started shooting, police said.

Shoppers fled in a panic or barricaded themselves behind closed doors and police arrived within 2 minutes of the first 911 call. They found three people dead, including Aguilar, who killed himself, police said.

The shooting has baffled law enforcement and acquaintances of Aguilar, a quiet, skinny teenager who graduated from high school less than a year ago and had no criminal record. Police spent Sunday trying to piece together his motive, but by late afternoon, it remained elusive.

After Aguilar had fired between six and nine shots, two Zumiez employees were dead. One victim, Brianna Benlolo, a 21-year-old single mother, lived half a mile away from Aguilar in the same neighborhood, but police said they were still trying to determine what, if any, relationship they had. Although they lived close to Maryland’s largest university, neither was a student there.

Advisers warn that Obama could go around Congress if agenda stalls again

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will work with Congress where he can and circumvent lawmakers where he must, his top advisers warned Sunday in previewing Tuesday’s State of the Union speech.

Obama faces a politically divided Congress on Tuesday and will use his annual address to demand expanded economic opportunity. Absent legislative action, the White House is telling lawmakers that the president is ready to take unilateral action to close the gap between rich and poor Americans.

“I think the way we have to think about this year is we have a divided government,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a longtime Obama adviser. “The Republican Congress is not going to rubber-stamp the president’s agenda. The president is not going to sign the Republican Congress’ agenda.”

So the White House is eyeing compromise on some priorities, Obama advisers said. But the president is also looking at executive orders that can be enacted without Congress’ approval.

“The president sees this as a year of action to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

Family of brain-dead, pregnant woman says life support has been removed

FORT WORTH, Texas — A brain-dead, pregnant Texas woman’s body was removed from life support Sunday, as the hospital keeping her on machines against her family’s wishes acceded to a judge’s ruling that it was misapplying state law.

Marlise Munoz’s body soon will be buried by her husband and parents, after John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth announced it would not fight Judge R.H. Wallace Jr.’s Friday order to pronounce her dead and return her body to her family. The 23-week-old fetus she was carrying will not be born.

The hospital’s decision Sunday brings an apparent end to a case that became a touchstone for national debates about the beginning and end of life, and whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus.

Munoz’s husband, Erick Munoz, sued the hospital because it would not remove life support as he said his wife would have wanted in such a situation. Erick and Marlise Munoz worked as paramedics and were familiar with end-of-life issues, and Erick said his wife had told him she would not want to be kept alive under such circumstances.

But the hospital refused his request, citing Texas law that says life-sustaining treatment cannot be withdrawn from a pregnant patient, regardless of her end-of-life wishes.

By wire sources