Birthday celebration will instead be vigil for Sunday Aguda, victim of shooting at Maryland Rite Aid

Sunday Aguda lived his life with three priorities: family, health and legacy.

During long talks with his friend Lawrence Odeyemi in his brother’s auto repair shop in Overlea, the Nigerian immigrant would dwell on his four children back home, whom he called daily. He implored Odeyemi always to take care of his health. And he measured his legacy, his friend said, by how many lives he touched.

“Try as much as possible to touch somebody’s life,” he would tell Odeyemi, “if only to say, ‘How are you?’”

Aguda was killed Thursday morning by a coworker while taking a break during his third week at his new job at a Rite Aid warehouse in Harford County. The shooter killed two others and injured three more before turning the gun on herself.

Aguda’s friends and family are planning a candlelight vigil at his Dundalk home, at 6 p.m. Monday — which would have been his 45th birthday.

“I want the world to know Sunday was special person,” his wife, Aleina Scott, wrote in an email. “He was a great husband and father who will be greatly missed. When we lost him, he was doing what he always did, working hard to take care of his family.”

He became the first person killed, his family said, when the shooter stormed the warehouse near Aberdeen.

The Harford County sheriff’s office identified the shooter as Snochia Moseley, a 26-year-old from Baltimore County and temporary employee at the Rite Aid distribution center.

“She was suffering from a mental illness and over the last two weeks had become increasingly agitated,” the sheriff’s office said.

Moseley’s handgun was purchased legally, officials said.

The first shots rang out about 9 a.m., when Moseley shot Aguda outside then went in firing, police said. She also killed Brindra Giri, a 41-year-old woman who arrived four months ago from Nepal, and Hayleen Reyes, 21, who came five months ago from the Dominican Republic.

Like the other victims, Aguda had come to the United States in search of a better life.

Per Nigerian culture, he earned his name from the day of the week on which he was born.

Here, he met Scott and they married last February. They lived in a townhouse in Dundalk.

Aguda was a “prophet gentleman,” Odeyemi said, “a God-fearing human being that loved people and cared for people.”

He would check on his friends in person if he hadn’t heard from them in a few days, Odeyemi said.

“He’d come to your house and knock on the door and say, ‘Are you OK? I tried to call your phone,’” he said. “‘How’s your brother? How’s your family? How’s your work?’”

An eternal optimist, he was uplifting no matter the situation, Odeyemi said.

“Don’t worry about it,” he would say when consoling his friends, according to Odeyemi. “Next year will be better than this year.”

Aguda’s killing left his communities — both back home and in Maryland — in “a dark state,” said Ajibola Oluwasefumi, a childhood friend who emigrated to the United States in 1998 and lives in Essex.

“They can’t even comprehend it,” Oluwasefumi said. “This guy didn’t do nothing other than work, go back to his wife, take care of his home — and that’s it.”

Aguda’s wife is devastated, he said, and his brother Clement Aguda has hardly eaten.

“I can’t believe that lady took him away from us,” Oluwasefumi said. “He was positive with everything in his life.”

Friends had been planning to celebrate Aguda’s birthday at his house with food, juice, soda and cake. Instead, they’ll bring candles and memories for a painful goodbye.

Aguda was the type who often would bring the party — a pizza, or chicken and fries — to a friend in need, Oluwasefumi said. It was no use trying to tell him that all you had a 12-pack of water bottles in the kitchen.

“Put it in the fridge,” he’d say. “We’re on our way.”

His mother-in-law, Darcel Hayes-Bridges, said she rushed down from her home in Lehigh Valley, Pa., when she heard of the shooting. Her daughter was devastated, she said outside the couple’s home Friday afternoon.

“He was very well-loved,” Hayes-Bridges said.

She recalled meeting her daughter’s suitor for the first time, noting his cheerfulness and deep faith. Aguda would quote scripture, particularly the Book of Proverbs.

Hayes-Bridges had a firm message for her daughter: “I said, ‘I approve.’”

tprudente@baltsun.com

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