'I never knew you, but I'll never forget you'

Zumiez wall covered with messages

COLUMBIA, Md. - Visitors to The Mall in Columbia are covering the wall of Zumiez with messages in honor of the two people that lost their lives at the store Saturday.

On Monday, the plaster walls stood blocking off the store at the center of it all. Since then, neighbors, loved ones, and complete strangers saw a different purpose for white walls; they're now adorned with loving messages written to Tyler Johnson and Brianna Benlolo.

"I never knew you, but I'll never forget you," read one message.

"They don't know these people, but it's heartfelt, you can feel it," said resident, Mary Garofolo.

Mall visitors stood outside the Zumiez store Wednesday, tearfully reading through the posted memories, and writing messages of their own.

"In general, people really do care," said Diane Ogilvie, who left a note on the wall Wednesday. "And it's like, this is just so surreal. Until you come out and you read it. And it's like, this really, really did happen."

One message read, "Words cannot express this tragic loss." But it's those very words that are drawing crowds to this new memorial, and helping people cope.

"They don't know these people, but they feel like by coming here, they feel close, you feel closer to the community. Like you're giving your support somehow," said Garofolo.

"The world shined brighter with you in it. Heaven will too," read one message.

Flowers lay underneath a message reading, "I never knew you, but I'll never forget you."

And memories from loved ones close to the Zumiez employees are scattered throughout: "We love you, Brianna and Tyler."

It's a reminder of the lives that these victims touched, and a place for their community to tell them what they meant.

"Gone but forever in our hearts."

 

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