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Officials: Suspect in Maryland Rite Aid shooting had mental illness, became increasingly agitated in weeks prior

Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler revealed Friday that Snochia Moseley’s family and friends were becoming increasingly concerned about her mental state in the weeks before she opened fire on her co-workers at a Rite Aid warehouse near Aberdeen, killing two women and one man.

Moseley’s first victim, Sunday Aguda, a 45-year-old Nigerian man living in Dundalk, was killed after Moseley shot him in the parking lot around 9 a.m. Thursday, Gahler said, divulging details detectives have learned about the county’s second workplace shooting in a year.

The shooter then pulled a hooded shirt over her head, went inside the distribution center and fired at least a dozen rounds from her 9mm Glock handgun, killing Brindra Giri, a 41-year-old Nepalese woman who recently moved to Baltimore County; and Hayleen Reyes, a 21-year-old Baltimore woman from the Dominican Republic.

Moseley, 26, also injured three men — Hassan Mitchell, 19, of Harford County; Wilfredo Villegas, 45, of Montgomery County; and Purna Acharya , 45, of New York — before shooting herself in the head twice before police arrived. About 65 people were at the warehouse.

“I know so many people out in the public are looking to make some sense of this, and there is just no way to make sense of something that is just so senseless,” Gahler said. “There are still a lot of questions that we don’t know and, frankly, when someone does something like this, such violence against other human beings, we’re never going to make sense of it or understand it fully. But we are going to give you as many facts as we can.”

Gahler said Moseley’s relatives and friends told authorities that she was becoming more and more agitated in the last couple of weeks, although they did not report their concerns to law enforcement. In searching her White Marsh home, the sheriff said deputies found “evidence” she was suffering from a mental illness. He did not say what they found or what condition Moseley had, only that she had been diagnosed with a mental illness in 2016.

On Thursday, Moseley arrived in time for her 6:30 a.m. shift, after having been hired as a seasonal worker less than two weeks earlier, Gahler said. She left the building about an hour later, returned to her house to get her gun, pepper spray and a pair of handcuffs.

She used a friend’s car to drive back to the warehouse, passing through the gate at 8:35 a.m. She stayed in the parking lot for 18 minutes, walked inside the distribution center for 12 minutes, left again, and started shooting in the parking lot where she hit Aguda. Two minutes later, she went back inside and opened fire again, killing and injuring the other five victims. The employees were on break when she shot them, the sheriff said.

Gahler said police do not know the reason for Moseley’s actions. Detectives looked for evidence of a “motive or cause,” but found none, he said. Video footage shows she was targeting her victims, but she did not take much time to steady her aim, Gahler said.

“Words were exchanged” between Moseley and one or more co-workers early in the morning when Moseley cut in line, but detectives do not think that disagreement was necessarily related to the shooting, Gahler said.

“There was no forewarning,” the sheriff said, “Other than her leaving, there was really nothing unusual said or done by her.”

Police arrived within five minutes of the first 911 call. Rite Aid has uniformed, unarmed security on its properties, Gahler said. It is unclear whether any were nearby when Moseley started shooting.

Gregory Langdon, of Joppa, was gathering tools to do maintenance work on the warehouse dock doors when rain started to fall Thursday morning. He was waiting inside a truck in the parking lot for the rain to pass when he heard eight or 10 shots being fired.

A former firefighter and a pastor, Langdon said he did not panic. He called 911 and got out of the truck to get away from the gunfire, walking toward a security gate at the entry to the parking lot when he heard Moseley begin firing again. He said he saw a group of about five people seeking shelter in an adjacent business, including a young man who screamed that he had been shot in the leg.

Langdon said he used his employee badge to let emergency responders into the parking lot.

“This is crazy,” said Langdon, a subcontractor at Rite Aid who comes once a month for preventative maintenance jobs. “It seems to be normal now. It’s worrying me.“

If it were not for the passing rain, Langdon said he believes he could have been in the line of fire.

Asked what can be done in the aftermath of another mass shooting, Langdon replied, “The only thing I can think of is to pray. Pray for the people who were injured and their families — and the shooter’s family because they’ve really got to be hurting, too. I ask the Father to send down his Holy Spirit to comfort and give them strength and help each and every one of them get through this time.”

Trauma surgeon A. Reema Kar was drinking a cup of coffee Thursday morning at Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital when her pager went off, telling her a gunshot victim was en route to the hospital. A medical team started mobilizing, as word spread of a workplace shooting with multiple victims. Although Kar did not disclose whom she treated, officials have said Moseley was among the four patients brought to Bayview.

“As trauma surgeons, we have a much more lasting view of what these types of injuries do,” Kar said. “It’s so much more than the initial chaos … These patients’ lives are destroyed and their families are completely shattered and broken.”

In the hours after the shooting, Kar shared her reflections in a Facebook post featuring a photo of a pair of her old blood-soaked sneakers that has been shared dozens of times: “There are nights I spend in the hospital wondering why this cycle never ends. … After training for nearly a decade to understand and assess what happens to the body when bullets blast through it, I hope I never have to see that level of death and devastation again.

“Even after all of these shootings, we have not learned. It is too easy for anyone to pull a trigger and ruin a life. It is too hard to undo the damage after the gun has already been fired.”

Moseley owned the gun she used in the shooting and it was legally registered to her, Gahler said.

Complete coverage: Shooting at Rite Aid warehouse in Maryland »

Despite her mental illness diagnosis, she was not prohibited from purchasing the gun, he said. Maryland gun laws block people from owning guns when they have both a history of mental illness and a known propensity for violence against his or herself or others. Moseley did not have a history of violence.

She worked as a security guard in the past, but she was not hired for a security position at Rite Aid.

Work continued quietly Friday at the Aberdeen business park adjacent to a working class neighborhood.

A line of big rigs waited at the entrance to be screened for entry into the Clorox Company warehouse. Outside Maines Paper and Food Service, trucks sat idly. Workers at Zenith Global Logistics took smoke breaks outside the warehouse, but declined to talk to a reporter about Thursday’s events. A few people swiped badges to get into the Rite Aid parking lot, but little activity could be seen from the parking lot.

“We learned again yesterday that no community is immune from this type of heinous violence,” Gahler said. “Harford County overall is a very safe place to live and work.”

About 40 people gathered Friday evening at the Cranberry United Methodist Church, just down the street from where the shooting occurred, for a candlelight vigil held by county faith leaders.

Among those in the crowd was a small group of Rite Aid employees, some who tearfully embraced during the vigil. Viviana Carey and Jessica Spore, who were at work in a separate building when the shooting broke out, said they are still shaken.

“You’re paranoid almost. It’s not something you can really explain,” Spore said. “I feel like I’m living out of body, just looking in on the world not sure exactly what’s going on.“

But Spore said the outpouring of support from the community has helped.

“I didn’t feel so alone anymore,” she said.

Carey said the location has many employees, “but we’re all one big family.”

The Rev. Ann Laprade, of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, told those gathered for the vigil that tragedies can tear people apart but also bring them closer together.

“We’re here because we know love is stronger than hate, and this is the way forward,“ she said.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Ian Duncan, Jonathan M. Pitts, Catherine Rentz, Talia Richman, Liz Bowie, Justin Fenton,Ted Hendricks and Erika Butler contributed to this article.

lireed@baltsun.com

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A previous version of this story included incorrect information provided by police about two of the shooting victims. Hayleen Reyes, 21, of Baltimore was killed and Purna Acharya, a 45-year-old man from New York, was injured in Thursday’s shooting.

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