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Rite Aid warehouse shooting suspect legally purchased gun used in attack despite being diagnosed with mental illness

The New York Daily News - 9/21/2018

Sept. 21--The 26-year-old woman who opened fire at a Rite Aid warehouse in Maryland gunned down her victims with a firearm she was able to purchase legally, despite being diagnosed with a mental illness in 2016.

Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler declined to elaborate on her condition during a press conference Friday morning. In speaking with family members and loved ones, investigators learned Snochia Moseley had become increasingly agitated in the weeks before she unleashed a barrage of bullets at the Rite Aid distribution hub in Aberdeen.

Witnesses said that Moseley, a temporary employee at the facility, shot herself twice before police arrived on the scene -- the first one a graze wound, the second a fatal blow to the head.

Authorities on Friday identified 45-year-old Sunday Aguda, 41-year-old Brindra Giri and 41-year-old Hayleen Reyes as the three victims killed in the attack, which also left Hassan Mitchell, 19, Wilfredo Villegas, 45, and Acharya Purna, a 45-year-old from New York, injured.

A mental health diagnosis alone is not enough to bar a Maryland resident from purchasing a firearm. Police said a potential gun owner must also show a "propensity of violence" toward oneself or others to trigger a rejection.

Gahler said she used a 9 mm Glock handgun -- which she purchased in March -- to fire off a total of 13 rounds both outside and in the Rite Aid warehouse.

Moseley arrived at work as usual for her shift at 6:30 a.m. Thursday. She left a little less than an hour later for "unknown reasons" and returned again around 8:35 a.m., according to police.

She re-entered the warehouse after about 20 minutes, but again exited around 9:05 a.m., pulled a hooded shirt over her face and started shooting.

She fatally struck Aguda outside and then continued her rampage inside the building, where 65 employees were working at the time.

Walter Zambrano, a 64-year-old worker, said he was in the bathroom when he first heard the commotion begin. He remained in the washroom, fearing for his life while he listened to the nearby gunfire.

The suspect was "shooting like crazy, bam! Bam! Bam!" he said. "Everyone was screaming, running this way and that. I didn't know which way to run."

Krystal Watson said her husband Eric, who works at the facility, told her the suspect argued with someone before the gunfire began.

"She didn't have a particular target. She was just shooting," Watson said.

Law enforcement officers were on the scene within five minutes, but Moseley had already fatally shot herself by the time they arrived.

The motive in the shooting still remains a mystery, though authorities currently don't have any evidence to suggest it was a work-related dispute. Witnesses said they saw Moseley arguing with someone about standing in line ahead of the incident, Gahler said.

"There's just no way to make sense of something so senseless," he added. "There's still a lot of questions that we don't know."

Tori Coley, a friend of Moseley's since high school, was shocked to learn a person she knew was the lone suspect in the case -- especially when she learned it was Moseley. She told the Baltimore Sun that while her longtime friend often felt isolated, she was not a bad person.

"She wasn't a monster, wasn't an angry person," Coley said. "I just believe this was emotional distress. If she did this, it was her last straw."

Coley also shared a string of 2016 Facebook messages in which the pair discuss Moseley's intent seek out hormone treatment. Authorities and court records both identify the suspected shooter as female, though it is not clear which pronouns she preferred.

"I just started talking about [being transgender]," Moseley wrote in messages obtained by the Sun. "My sister is totally supportive, my brothers already had an idea, my mom and I haven't gotten around to admitting it yet, but she's heard somehow."

Moseley, a 2011 graduate from Overlea High School, did not have a criminal record, according to authorities. Over the course of six days at the end of August and the beginning of September, she was stopped by Baltimore County Police three times, according to online court records.

Moseley was ticketed for, among other things, not having current registration plates, having suspended registration; failing to update her address and not having insurance.

With News Wire Services

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