Howard County police investigate fatal shootings

One woman was killed and another critically wounded Thursday during a shooting inside a church office, and police later found a man dead in an apparent suicide in the woods nearby, Howard County police said.

The unusual and violent incident unfolded at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in the 3600 block of Rogers Avenue when county police were called by a church custodian, who found two wounded women in the office, police said in a statement. When officers arrived, they found the women inside an office at the church, in a building adjacent to the sanctuary.

Police locked down the complex and searched the two-story church and a single-story building adjacent to it. Officials think the custodian was the only other person inside during the incident.

About an hour after police began searching the church grounds, they found a body in the woods. The man had what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said, and a handgun was found next to his body.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the shootings are linked, said Sherry Llewllyn, a police spokeswoman.

“We’re looking into the very real possibility that these incidents may be connected,” Llewllyn said. “We don’t yet know what the motive could have been.”

Authorities pronounced one woman dead at the scene. The second woman was taken to a Baltimore hospital, officials said. She was listed in critical condition Thursday night.

Officials did not release the names or ages of anyone involved in the incident. It was not immediately clear whether the shootings involved any church employees or parishioners. The church is across the street from a neighborhood of townhouses and single-family homes, but police did not evacuate or lock down the area immediately after the shooting.

Police are not searching the area, officials said.

Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.

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