Loudoun deputy who accidentally shot daughter will not be charged

A Loudoun County sheriff’s deputy who accidentally shot his teenage daughter after mistaking her for an intruder will not be charged, according to the Frederick County commonwealth’s attorney’s office.

The shooting occurred about 3:30 a.m. Aug. 12 when Easton McDonald responded to a security alarm in his Winchester home. After hearing noises coming from outside the garage door, McDonald saw a dark shadow moving toward him and fired a shot from a privately owned gun, striking his 16-year-old daughter in the torso, according to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

The teen, a student at Millbrook High School, had been returning home after apparently sneaking out, investigators said.

After the shot was fired, McDonald recognized his daughter’s voice and called 911, said Frederick Sheriff’s Office Capt. Donnie Lang.

McDonald told the 911 operator that he would take his daughter to the hospital, Lang said, but lost control of his vehicle and struck a barricade en route. The deputy was not hurt in the crash, which caused no additional injuries to his daughter. An ambulance then took the teen to Winchester Medical Center, where she remains hospitalized in stable condition, authorities said.

In a statement Wednesday, the Frederick County commonwealth’s attorney said that, after an investigation by the Frederick Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that there was “no evidence upon which to base” any criminal charges.

“The investigation revealed that at the time of the shooting, Mr. McDonald believed that his daughter had been in her room asleep for several hours. He was unaware that she had left the house approximately two hours before to meet a friend nearby,” the statement said.

“Believing that all family members were present and accounted for within the home, Mr. McDonald mistakenly believed that the person or persons attempting to enter his home through the garage represented a dangerous intrusion,” the statement said. “His subsequent use of a lawfully possessed firearm was predicated on this mistake of fact, coupled with his desire to protect his home and family.”

Calls to the McDonald home Thursday were not immediately returned.

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Caitlin Gibson covers Loudoun County for The Washington Post.
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