Police have identified the man who they believe shot and killed two women in an Ellicott City church before turning his gun on himself.
Douglas Franklin Jones, 56, was found dead in a wooded area from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound; a handgun was found nearby, according to Sherry Llewellyn, spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department.
"Police located a campsite in the woods with personal belongings and believe Jones was living there," Llewellyn said.
The two women shot at St. Peter's Episcopal Church were identified Friday morning as the church's co-rector, Mary Marguerite-Kohn, and its administrative assistant, Brenda Brewington, according to the county Police Department.
Brewington, 59, of Ellicott City, was pronounced dead at the scene. Marguerite-Kohn, 62, of Relay, was taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where she died Saturday night.
"Jones had recently been involved in a dispute with church members," Llewellyn said. "He visited the church regularly to access their food bank, but recently had become belligerent and argumentative.
"Police believe Jones' anger with the church may have been the motive for the shooting, but don't believe any specific person or people were targeted."
Nobody else was in the church in the 3600 block of Rogers Avenue near Frederick Road at the time, she said.
Brewington began working in the church's office about four years ago, and she had also been helping out at its preschool before that, according to a July 2010 church newsletter. She has two sons, both in their 20s.
The Brewingtons have lived in a home on Rolling Meadows Road, in the Wheatfield neighborhood located off Long Gate Parkway, just south of Montgomery Road in Ellicott City, since 1991, when the home was built, according to property records.
On Friday afternoon, cars lined the street surrounding the Brewingtons' home. Individuals and families were seen entering and leaving the home.
Two men who were sitting on the porch told a reporter that the family did not want to speak with reporters at this time.
A next-door neighbor, standing outside his door, was surprised to learn that the shooting victim he had heard about in the news the night before was Brenda Brewington. He said his family and the Brewingtons have both lived in the neighborhood since the homes were built.
"That's unbelievable," the neighbor said. He declined to comment further.
Another neighbor, who lived a few houses down and across the street, said Brewington "was a very dear friend." She declined to say more, noting, "It's still very raw."
A few residents of Cornflower Court, which intersects with Rolling Meadows Road near the Brewingtons' home, said they didn't know Brewington well but saw her often.
"She always walked her white dog in the afternoon," said Lamom Sealey, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 10 years. However, Sealey said she had not seen Brewington walk the dog "for a while because her dog got old."
Sealey said she heard about the tragedy on the news Thursday night before learning the victim was her neighbor.
"I said, 'In Ellicott City?' I've lived here 10 years. I've never heard of anything like this. We thought we lived in the safest place," said Sealey, who recalled having driven by St. Peter's church several times.
Nancy Shih, another neighbor who has lived on Cornflower Court for more than 15 years, said her 9-year-old daughter, Mercy, while walking their family dog, had interacted with Brewington a few times and she was always nice to her. She also recalled having seen Brewington walk her dog.
"She had a beautiful white dog," Shih said.
Shih said she was praying for the Brewingtons and wishes "that God would bring blessings out of this turmoil."
Kohn has several degrees, according to her Facebook page, studying at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., Duke Divinity School and the University of North Carolina. She received her doctorate in pastoral counseling in 2009 from what is now Loyola University Maryland.
Kohn had served as the interim priest associate at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Pittsfield, Mass., from October 2000 until March 2002.
The current rector, Rev. Hannah Anderson, has served at St. Stephen's for seven years and did not know Kohn personally.
She said news of Kohn's injury impacted the congregation, many of which recalled her care for others in their times of need.
"I've heard our parishioners speak very fondly of her," Anderson said. "They're very stunned and startled at what happened to Mary Marguerite."
Anderson said her church has planned a candle light vigil for Sunday "to pray for (Kohn) and for all people who have suffered or died from random violence in this world."
The tragedy has united the Episcopal church community, through the St. Peter's church Facebook page and other online sites. More than 120 comments on a post on the church's Facebook page showed support and prayers from all over the United States, as well as parts of Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
"God bless you, strengthen you and comfort you and the families of the victims," one Facebook comment read.
Another read: "May God's comforting arms surround every family and hold you close."
The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland issued news release about the shootings, noting it "is saddened beyond words." Clergy of the diocesan staff have visited with members of St. Peter's and said prayers over the victims, according the to news release.
"The diocese holds the victims, their families, and the people and staff of St. Peter's Church and pre-school in its continued prayers," the release said.
St. John's Episcopal Church, located nearby on Frederick Road, opened its doors late Thursday evening "to offer a place of support and prayer," the release said.
Police called to church
Police were called to the church at about 5:20 p.m. Thursday after the church's custodian called 911 and said he had found two women in a church office who had been shot.
Officers arriving on the scene sought to determine whether the shooter was still in the building or in the surrounding area. Barbara Holt, a 63-year-old who lives across the street from the church on Bonnybridge Place, said that police had asked her around 5:30 p.m. if she had seen anybody run by.
Neighborhood residents recalled watching police approach the building.
"I saw SWAT guys going in on a truck," said Kevin Lee, a 17-year-old who lives on Bonnybridge Place, speaking at about 7:15 p.m. Thursday on a nearby hill. "They were like hanging on the sides; 10 to 15 minutes later they came back out. And just like 10 minutes ago people went in with suits."
Around 7:35 p.m., an ambulance pulled into Smith Avenue, a road adjacent to the church that also connects with the church's parking lot.
At 7:45 p.m., police announced that they had found the man's body in the woods.
Debbie Rao, 53, also a resident of Bonnybridge Place, said Thursday that she was "relieved" but "wary" upon hearing a man had been found dead in the woods.
"Something happened two years ago" in the area, she said, referring to the Sept. 11, 2010, murder of Clare Stoudt. Stoudt was shot to death at her townhouse in the 3700 block of Bonnybridge Place by her long-term, live-in boyfriend, who turned the gun on himself after killing Stoudt, police said in 2010.
Rao then pointed to the church and said: "I'm just worried about them over there, too."
She added: "I can sleep peaceful. We weren't going home until we knew this was all cleared. I just want to know if we were going to be safe. I have grandkids."
Scott Anderson, 46, has lived on Bonnybridge Place for 12 years.
"It's a random act around here," he said. "This is the quietest neighborhood."
On Friday morning, a single strand of crime-scene tape remained nearby, running between a tree and a fence farther north on Rogers Avenue.
Staff reporter Brian Conlin contributed to this article.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun