Reporting Mike Hellgren
ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Police are giving us new information about the gun used in a double murder inside a church in Howard County.
Mike Hellgren has more on the man accused of pulling the trigger.
The murders of two women inside St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at the hands of a man they were trying to help have shaken Ellicott City and raised questions over whether anything could have stopped the accused shooter, 56-year-old Douglas Franklin Jones.
Police tell WJZ he was homeless, living in the woods near the church and getting help from the food bank, but became angry when told to limit his frequent visits. He somehow got a gun and opened fire, killing co-rector Mary-Marguerite Kohn and administrator Brenda Brewington.
Sheresse Wilson’s fiance has known Jones since he was a child.
“He didn’t think that he would actually go that far,” Wilson said. “They’re saying it was over food but he thinks it was deeper with Franklin.”
She says his world collapsed several years ago after a rocky divorce and trouble in what had been a successful landscaping business.
“It was thriving very well and things just went downhill. Everybody has their times when it’s just up and down,” Wilson said.
Police do not believe Jones targeted the two women who died at the church. They believe he went into the church and shot anyone he saw. Police have not revealed whether Jones had any known mental health issues but Howard County officers now partner with mental health professionals to de-escalate a growing number of crisis situations.
“You don’t know what you can encounter simply by saying the wrong thing or putting yourself in a bad position,” said Howard County Police Lieutenant Robert Wagner, commander of education and training division. “We use mobile crisis teams almost on a daily basis.”
“Churches do what they have to do for the community. They reach out, they give the helping hand and they always give the benefit of the doubt,” said Dina Marshall.
Grief counselors are on hand as the church prepares to bury those who died.
Kohn’s funeral is Tuesday at 3 p.m. It will be held at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in her name to St. Peter’s Church.
Brewington’s funeral is Thursday at 1:30 p.m. It will be at St. John’s Parish in Ellicott City. Her interment will follow at St. John’s Parish Cemetery.