They told stories about the Browning family for an hour last night, the most colorful of which involved Greg Browning's attempts to play soccer.
Instead of scoring goals, the rambunctious 14-year-old made his classmates laugh, and the dozens who showed up on the steps of the family's Cockeysville home for a vigil continued to do so as they remembered his antics.
"He was just so funny," said Gabe Ford, 13, to the chuckles of his classmates. "We would play soccer, and the kid would never run straight. He was just great. He didn't deserve to die."
Yesterday morning, Baltimore County police charged Nicholas W. Browning, 15, with first-degree murder in the deaths of Greg, brother Benjamin, 11, and parents John and Tamara.
Nicholas Browning was arrested about 1 a.m. after confessing, police said.
About 100 people came to the vigil, the majority of whom were classmates of Greg, the middle son. On a darkened street lit only by candles and television equipment, kids stood teary-eyed. Some sobbed, a few others wailed. All described Greg and the Brownings as good people.
Greg, in particular, was remembered for being the school's mascot.
"No matter how funny or stupid he could be, we all loved him," said Millicent Hambor, 13, shortly after the crowd sang a verse of "Amazing Grace." "You knew he cared about you, even if you didn't talk to him all the time."
Nicholas left his family's home in the 10900 block of Powers Ave. on Friday and spent that night with a friend, police said. He returned Saturday about 5 p.m. and reported that he had discovered the body of at least one of his family members.
Police said Nicholas had an argument with his father Friday night and that he took his father's handgun and shot him, his mother and brothers.
At the vigil, a youth pastor and acquaintance of the Browning family asked onlookers to form a circle while he prayed for the teenager.
"Right now we pray for Nick," said the Rev. Gary Wilmer. "We're not sure what's going on in this young man's mind."
Earlier yesterday, the mood in the quiet, suburban neighborhood was somber. Friends wiped their eyes as they dropped off flowers and balloons outside the family's front door.
"It's sickening - just a shock," said neighbor Virginia Lyon. "Such a nice family, such good people. ... I've known them for a good long while, 10 to 15 years."
Julie Korrow, a 21-year-old student at the Community College of Baltimore County said that she baby-sat for the family for three years.
She said that Nicholas was always helpful to her, acting like a caretaker to his little brothers.
"The younger ones were a bit crazy. Greg and Ben would fight, fight, fight. Boys will be boys," Korrow recalled. "But Nicholas was like the other baby sitter, calming them down and helping to get them to go to bed. ... He was a good kid - very smart and athletic. I can't understand why he'd do anything like this."
The former baby sitter said she'd be hired by the family about twice a month, usually on weekends, to allow the parents to go out for dinner or parties. She described the father, John Browning, as a "funny, outgoing, nice dad." He was not only a Boy Scout leader but such an outdoors enthusiast he had "like 12 canoes in the garage" that he'd use to take his kids out canoeing.
Korrow's mother, Jane Korrow, said Tammy Browning had volunteered to run in a charity 5-kilometer race that the Korrow family organized to honor their son Billy Korrow, a 12-year-old who died in 1993.
"The mom was very nice. Always helping others who needed help," said Jane Korrow. "It's mind-boggling that this could happen."
Alice Williams, who lives down the street from the Browning home, said that John Browning was a generous attorney who helped her out with free legal services, doing real estate paperwork, when her husband died two years ago.
Due to incorrect information given to The Sun, Gregory Browning's age was misstated when this article was published in the print edition. The Sun regrets the error.