COCKEYSVILLE, Md. – A 15-year-old boy who wasn't getting along with his father was charged with murder Sunday in the deaths of his parents and two younger brothers, who were shot in their sleep at their home in a Baltimore suburb.
After the killings, police said, Nicholas Waggoner Browning spent the night and next day with friends, before returning and reporting he had found his father's body.
He was arrested at 1:05 a.m. Sunday after he admitted committing the killings, Baltimore County Police spokesman Bill Toohey said.
Browning was charged as an adult with four counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of his father, lawyer John Browning, 45; his mother Tamara, 44; and his brothers Gregory, 13, and Benjamin, 11.
The teen had not been getting along with his father, police said in a news release. On Friday night, he went into the house after other family members had gone to sleep and shot each of them using his father's handgun, which was in the house, police said.
After the slayings, he threw the gun into bushes near the house, police said. The gun was recovered, Toohey said.
Browning then spent Friday night and all day Saturday with friends, Toohey said. When the friends took him back to his house at 5 p.m. Saturday, Browning went into the house and came back out to say that his father was dead. He called 911.
Police officers said all four victims were shot in their sleep. They said Browning's father was found in a ground-floor room and his mother and brothers were dead in upstairs bedrooms. There was no sign of a confrontation, Toohey said.
Browning, a sophomore at Dulaney High School in neighboring Timonium, was denied bail Sunday morning; a bail review hearing was scheduled Monday. He was being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center in a special section for juveniles.
Toohey said he didn't know if Browning had a lawyer.
Even if convicted as an adult of first-degree murder, Browning is too young under state law to face the death penalty.
Two of Browning's classmates drove past the family's house Sunday afternoon and wept when they learned from reporters that he was charged in the slayings.
"It's hard to believe someone could do this," said Brooke Kebaugh, 16.
Liz Lazlawbach, 17, said Browning complained about fighting with his father, but "not about anything violent."
The grounds of the two-story home were neat and neighbor Mike Thomas said the Brownings would even pick up trash along the street.
"These people would do anything in the world for you — just incredible people," Thomas said.
Neighbors called each other throughout the night to discuss the killings, Thomas said. He said one of his sons had been in Boy Scouts with one of the Brownings' sons and was devastated when he learned of the deaths.
John Browning was a partner in the law firm of Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid in Towson, focusing on real estate law and commercial and corporate law.
The partners said Browning was an accomplished lawyer. "He was also a person invested in his family and community," the partners said. "He led his local scout troop. He was a leader at his church. In short, John Browning was a great man. We will all miss him very, very much."
The Brownings' Boy Scout unit, Troop 328, meets at Timonium United Methodist Church. The Rev. Frances Dailey said Sunday that the troop's leaders did not want to talk. He said John Browning was "beloved and well revered. I'm told this is not the kind of family that this could happen to."
Counselors were to be available Monday to meet with students at Dulaney High, said Charles Herndon, a county school spokesman. He declined to say where Browning's younger brothers went to school.