A teenage girl was killed and her mother wounded in a triple shooting at a home in Ellicott City early Sunday morning, Howard County police said, shocking neighbors in a quiet community who woke up on New Year's Day to the news.
Charlotte Zaremba, 16, was fatally shot and her mother, Suzanne Zaremba, 52, injured after Zaremba went to investigate a "scuffle" she heard in the girl's bedroom, police said.
A boy in the room shot at the mother, "and then the girl, and then himself," police said.
Police said the suspect is a 15-year-old boy who was found in the home in the 4800 block of Knoll Glen Drive with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. He was in critical condition Sunday evening at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Officers received reports of gunfire at the home about 2 a.m. and found the girl with a gunshot wound. She was taken to Howard County General Hospital, where she died, police said.
Her mother was treated at Shock Trauma and released, police said, while another family member who was in the home at the time was unharmed.
Police did not release the 15-year-old's identity Sunday, and said it was unclear whether he had any connection to the victims or what the motive might have been. Police said the boy is from Ellicott City. There is no indication anyone else was involved, police said.
The news rocked friends of Charlotte Zaremba, who was a sophomore at Howard High School, Howard County schools spokesman John White said.
Kieran Davis, who attended Ellicott Mills Middle School with Charlotte Zaremba, said she got a Snapchat message from her around midnight wishing her a happy new year. When she found out in the morning that Zaremba had been killed, she said she spent hours in shock.
Kieran said Charlotte was often "radiating with joy," supportive of people from diverse backgrounds, and made people feel that they could confide in her.
"It's crazy how many people feel close to her even if they didn't know her that well," said Kieran, a 15-year-old student at Mount Hebron High School. "She had this knack for being trustworthy. People felt like they could talk to her."
Shawn Lambert, a junior at Howard High School, said Charlotte was at a sick friend's house Saturday helping take care of her, he said.
"She was a great person who loved and cared for everyone," he said. "She pretty much touched everyone in the school. She was a great person; everyone loved her. She was just a funny, sweet person who was always laughing."
The home is on a short block of ranch-style homes that ends in a wooded area. Most residents of the street, in the Montgomery Knolls area, declined to speak to reporters about the shootings.
A woman who said she and Suzanne Zaremba were both volunteers with the Girl Scouts arrived in a car with two girls to ask neighbors if the family needed anything.
"She was a wonderful person," said one of the girls as they left a neighbor's house.
Police closed the block to traffic as officers and detectives worked in the Zaremba home, reopening the street by early afternoon.
"Oh my God, I had no idea," one neighbor said when she arrived on the street and was met by a police officer.
Another neighbor, Jing Wang, said her husband told her he saw police cars about 2 a.m., but the couple did not learn the reason until news reporters arrived later in the morning. "I'm so sorry about the family," said Wang, 47, a school cafeteria worker. "This area is quiet, it's safe, it's a good area."
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 410-313-STOP or contact HCPDcrimetimes@howardcountymd.gov.