FREDERICK, Md. - Last month's devastating shooting at the Columbia Mall hit communities all across the county.
Tyler Johnson from Mount Airy and Brianna Benlolo from College Park were both killed when the gunman opened fire that Saturday.
Now the Johnson family is hoping to leave a legacy behind for their son.
To remember his life, Johnson’s parents have created a memorial fund to honor Tyler’s passion.
“Our mission is Tyler’s mission now. We feel like he's communicating with us and directing us. So we're going to carry on his mission,” said Howard Johnson, Tyler’s Dad.
Tyler was a board member at the serenity center and now his parents have taken his place. They say it's their way of continuing Tyler’s mission.
“And that does provide some comfort for us and it helps us connect us with Tyler, we feel the spirit still,” said Johnson.
The community fund will help recovering addicts with group therapy and professional counseling.
“Tyler's taught us a lot and we're going to carry on his legacy now. And I’ve learned my lesson now I’m going to give back more to the community just like he did and I appreciate that. I appreciate that he's really done that for; he's reminded us that we truly are all interconnected,” said Johnson.
And for Tyler’s parents -- this fund is helping them turn this negative experience into a positive memory
“That's the only way I think you can do it. You have to run toward the light not the dark you know and this is the positive way to go and it really helps with the grieving process as well I think,” said Johnson.
And on Friday night, both families held a vigil in honor for Tyler Johnson and Brianna Benlolo.
Donations in his memory can be made to the Community Foundation of Howard County, Tyler Johnson Memorial Fund, 10630 Little Patuxent Parkway, Century Plaza, Suite 315, Columbia, MD 21044. Donors may also make memorial gifts online, by clicking here. Please specify 'Tyler Johnson' in the memorial field.