- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 10, 2008

LUTHERVILLE, Md. (AP) — John Browning was a prankster and a morning person who loved to whistle. His wife, Tammy, was a thrill-seeker who rode boogie boards and roller coasters with her sons. Greg Browning, 14, was thrown out of a gymnastics class for having too much energy. And his 11-year-old brother, Ben, cracked up his friends with his impersonation of football commentator John Madden.

The Brownings and their two young sons, who were slain a week ago — purportedly by the eldest Browning boy — were remembered yesterday during a memorial service as a devout but fun-loving family that would always show friends and relatives a good time.

“They made you feel comfortable,” said Sam Adams, who married Mr. Browning’s sister, Sally. “They made you feel important.”

Nearly 1,300 people attended the nearly two-hour service at the Trinity Assembly of God.

The name of Nicholas Browning, who is accused of using his father’s handgun to kill his father, mother and two brothers, was not uttered by any of the dozen people who eulogized the Brownings. The teen spent his 16th birthday yesterday in a cell at the Baltimore County Detention Center, where he’s being held without bond.

However, the Rev. Bill Brown, the family pastor, in his sermon asked the mourners “to forgive Nick.”

“I don’t know if you are in a place to think about forgiveness, but I invite you to search your hearts and reach out to God,” he said.

According to police, the teenager shot his father on the first floor of his family’s home late in the evening of Feb. 1, then went upstairs, where he shot his mother and brothers in their bedrooms.

He spent that night and most of the next day with friends, reportedly behaving as if nothing had happened. He returned that next afternoon to stage the discovery of the bodies, police said. The next day, Feb. 3, he confessed and was charged as an adult with four counts of murder.

Beyond saying the teenager had disagreements with his father, police have revealed little about what might have led to the killings.

“Tammy was a cool mom, if there’s such a thing as a cool mom,” said her friend Tammy Gray. “She was the first in the ocean on the boogie board, and the longest on the ski slopes.”

Mr. Browning “was annoyingly perky in the mornings,” friend Lee Schmelz said.

Tom McDonough, Mr. Browning’s law partner, said Mr. Browning whistled the theme song to “My Three Sons” in the office after learning his third child would also be a boy.

James Schmelz tearfully said about his friend Greg: “Never in my life did I think I could have encountered someone I could completely be myself with. But I did, and that was Greg.”

Matthew Eibl, a friend of Ben’s, said Ben’s family nicknamed him “TiVo” because he could quote lines of dialogue from any show he saw.

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