Homeless man suspected in Ellicott City church shootings

A homeless man who regularly visited the food bank at an Ellicott City church is thought to have shot a co-rector and killed an administrative assistant there Thursday night, police said Friday.

Douglas Franklin Jones, 56, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the woods near St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Thursday night. Howard County police believe he shot the two women in the church office before going to the woods, where he had been living.

“Investigators have learned that Jones had recently been involved in a dispute with church members,” police said in a statement. “He visited the church regularly to access their food bank but recently had become belligerent and argumentative.”

Brenda Brewington, 59, of Ellicott City was found dead at the church. She was an administrative assistant at St. Peter’s, according to the church’s Web site.

The Rev. Marguerite Mary Kohn, 62, of Halethorpe, Md., is in critical condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, police said. Kohn is the co-rector of St. Peter’s, according to the church’s Web site. According to a statement by the church, she “remains on life support in critical condition to support the family intentions to provide the gift of life through organ donation.”

Investigators “believe Jones’s anger with the church may have been the motive for the shooting but don’t believe any specific person or people were targeted,” police said. “No one else was in the building at the time of the shooting.”

They found a campsite in the woods with personal belongings and believe Jones was living there.

Kohn had received a PhD in pastoral counseling from Loyola University Maryland in 2009 and is an affiliate faculty member in the school’s department of pastoral counseling and spiritual care, university spokesman Nick Alexopulos said.

In a statement, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said it was “saddened beyond words by the shootings.”

The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, Episcopal bishop of Maryland, offered prayers at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore, and clergy of the diocesan staff have been meeting with St. Peter’s parish and staff members, the diocese said.

Another Episcopal church in Ellicott City, St. John’s Parish, opened its doors Thursday night “to offer a place of support and prayer,” the diocese said.

Police received a call about 5:20 p.m. Thursday from a church custodian who found the women. St. Peter’s is near Frederick Road and Rogers Avenue.

Baltimore Sun reporter Alison Knezevich contributed to this article.

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