By Ava-joye Burnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Howard County community is mourning after a 16-year-old is shot and killed in her bedroom, with the suspect himself only 15-years-old.

The teenage boy is in the hospital in critical condition for shooting himself in the head, and holds answers to questions police are trying to solve.

At just 16-years-old, Howard High School student Charlotte Zaremba was starting to embrace her passions, taking martial arts classes.

“Everybody is devastated,” says Brian Kushner, owner of Roadhouse Krav Maga, and Charlotte’s martial arts instructor. Kushner’s daughter, Isabel, was friends with Charlotte.

Charlotte’s instructor says she was quiet but confident, and can’t believe she’s gone.

“My daughter woke me up and told me about it. It was surreal, it’s still surreal,” says Kushner.

Police say around 2 a.m. New Year’s morning, mom Suzanne Zaremba approached her daughter’s room after hearing noises, but she was confronted by the 15-year-old suspect who shot her and Charlotte. Police say he then shot himself. Suzanne Zaremba was somehow able to call 911 for help.

“4817 Knoll Glen Road, caller advising her 16-year-old daughter has been shot. She’s doing CPR at this time,” says the 911 dispatcher.

On their first day back to school after the holiday break, students wore black in honor of the 16-year-old. Crisis team members were also present for the entire day.

“People are like really sad. It’s really sad. I don’t even know what to say,” says one student at Howard High School.

Inside Charlotte’s martial arts gym, there was disbelief such a tragedy could have hit so close to home.

And for Charlotte’s instructor, he keeps asking himself, what if?

“It’s extremely upsetting, especially as a self-defense instructor, for me, personally, I am trying to go back and forth with some guilt and it’s like, what should I have taught her?” says Kushner.

The 15-year-old suspect is at University of Maryland Shock Trauma in critical condition. Police have not yet released his name. Police are still investigating a motive in this case.

Howard County Public School officials have released a statement from Howard High School Principal Nick Novak on the passing on Charlotte Zaremba:

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I am writing you to update you on the tragic situation that happened in our community this weekend and to discuss the supports that were provided to students at school today.  As many of you already know, Charlotte Zaremba, a sophomore at Howard High School, was shot and killed in her home early Sunday morning.  Her mother was injured in the shooting.  The police have indicated a 15-year-old male who was found at the scene is a suspect in the case.  The suspect is currently in the hospital in critical condition.  This is an ongoing investigation and the police have not released the name of the suspect at this time.   
Members of our Howard High School Student Services Team and the Howard County Public School System Crisis Intervention Team were available today to provide support and guidance for our students and staff during this difficult time.  Teachers led developmentally appropriate discussions in each of our classrooms as we shared the news of Charlotte’s death with the students.  We also helped the students identify adults they could talk to at home and school if they had questions or were having a difficult time managing this sad news.  Crisis team members were available throughout the day to provide additional support for students as needed.  School staff contacted parents of all students who received direct supports.

Whenever there is a death such as this, students, staff, and parents are struck by a wide range of emotions and a deep sense of loss.  However, these emotions can be particularly difficult for young people to understand.  Situations such as these may create a variety of reactions, including sleep disturbances, temporary loss of appetite, anxiety, or fears about personal health and safety or the health and safety of family members.  Young people may also use humor to deal with their feelings, and although this may seem unusual, it is a common coping mechanism.
Some suggestions for dealing with concerns you may have about your child are discussed below.  You can also contact our counseling staff at 410-313-2871 if you have further questions or concerns about your child’s reaction to this sad news.

Listen to your child’s story – Let your child know that you are available to answer any questions.  You may not have all the answers to their questions, but they will benefit from your attention.  Provide simple, accurate information in response to questions.

Encourage your child to express his or her feelings – Talk about your own feelings.  Don’t be afraid to cry in his or her presence and share your own loss experiences.  It is okay to cry together and hold each other.

Talk to your child about your personal value system around death and loss – Discuss your family’s personal and/or religious beliefs about death.  Your child may be particularly anxious about the sudden realization that death ultimately happens to everyone and that death can come without warning.

Support your child and be patient with his or her feelings in responding to this loss – Spend extra time tonight to be with your child discussing and processing the day’s events.

At the time of this letter, funeral arrangements for Charlotte have not been finalized.  We will share this information based on the family’s wishes once the details are confirmed.  I am certain that you will join us in keeping the Zaremba family in your thoughts and prayers in the days and weeks ahead as they face this difficult time.


Nick Novak

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Comments (3)
  1. Sue Keller says:

    That was just unkind. You’re talking about someone’s beloved child.

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