Sgt. Leroy Lamb, a U.S. Army recruiter, said Aug. 29 that Wasel Ali had previously been a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, but declined further comment.

Friends in mourning

Jared Flagg and his mother, Linda Waters, as well as Jonathan LaFrisco and Erana Krankoski, who called themselves friends of Ali, visited the site where Ali's body was found on Aug. 28.

Ali had worked at the Banana Republic store in Columbia mall, they said.

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Michelle Sibbitt, a spokeswoman for Gap Inc., which owns the store, confirmed that.

Flagg and LaFrisco said they attended Wilde Lake High School with Ali.

"He was into law enforcement," LaFrisco said. "He would do anything for anybody. He wouldn't hurt nobody."

Waters said Ali was like a son to her.

"This is such a loss to his friends, a loss to his family," she said.

Ali's friends created a tribute for him on Facebook, a Web service. More than 200 people had posted messages on the page by Aug. 29. Many described themselves as "shocked" to hear of Ali's death. Several described him as "smart" and a "sweet" person who looked out for his friends.

"You have always been a good friend to me, and hurts that you are gone," read one post.

Ali's family declined to comment.

Police are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case and are asking people who have information about Ali's death to call 410-313-3200.

Mike Santa Rita and Nate Sandstrom contributed to this story.