Priest Mary-Marguerite Kohn was found in critical condition after being shot at St. Peter’s Church in Ellicott City.
Brenda Brewington, an administrative assistant at the church, died at the scene of the attack.
Police say a homeless man who visited the church’s food bank shot the two before taking his own life.
Howard County police identified the attacker as 56-year-old Douglas Franklin Jones. They believe he lived in a nearby campsite, and had recently become argumentative and belligerent with workers at the church.
Investigators say Jones visited the church regularly to access their food bank and was involved in a dispute with church members.
Police believe Jones’ anger may have been the motive for the shooting, but don’t believe any specific person was targeted. No one else was in the building at the time of the attack.
“The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is saddened beyond words by the shootings,” spokeswoman Sharon Tillman said in a written statement.
She said the Maryland bishop, Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, offered prayers for the victims Thursday night at a chapel in Baltimore where the diocese is based.
Kohn had been co-rector of St. Peter’s since Aug. 2009. Before that she was an associate rector of the parish, Tillman said. In addition to her work at the church, Kohn had studied pastoral counseling, and had been active in reaching out to victims of sexual abuse by clergy.