Police consider whether to charge neighbor in fatal shooting of Loudoun teen

Loudoun County sheriff’s officials are reviewing 911 calls and interviewing friends of the teenager who was shot to death after he accidentally entered a neighbor’s home over the weekend.

Sheriff Mike Chapman said his office is working with the commonwealth’s attorney’s office in deciding whether to pursue charges or close the investigation. James Plowman, Loudoun’s chief prosecutor, declined to comment.

Caleb Gordley, 16, sneaked out of his home in Sterling after he was grounded for not cleaning his room. He went to a party with some friends, where he drank alcohol. About 2 a.m. Sunday, his friends dropped him off after the party, but Caleb wrongly entered the house two doors from his by climbing through a window.

The homeowner, Donald West Wilder II, heard his burglar alarm go off and confronted Caleb. He fired a warning shot and told the teenager to leave. When he didn’t, Wilder shot again, fatally striking Caleb, law enforcement officials said.

Officials said the Wilders and Gordleys did not know one another.

Virginia law is largely silent on when a homeowner can shoot an intruder. But years of legal precedent give wide latitude to people who fear for their safety when someone enters their home.

Chapman declined to discuss the shooter or the details of the shooting at a news conference Tuesday, saying only that the investigation into the circumstances of Caleb’s death is ongoing.

“We are consulting daily with the commonwealth attorney’s office,” Chapman said.

Wilder has not answered the door or responded to efforts to contact him.

Caleb appeared to have entered the wrong home by mistake, Chapman said.

Chapman said there was no indication that the teenager had entered his neighbor’s home with any intent to commit a crime.

“It appears at this point . . . that he had entered the incorrect house,” Chapman said.

Chapman said he met Tuesday with Caleb’s family at their home. The shooting, he said, was a “tragic circumstance all the way around.”

“My heart really goes out to the parents of Caleb,” he said. “I really feel bad for everyone involved in this.”

Caleb was a junior at Park View High School in Sterling, and played basketball, football and baseball.

He was well liked and had never been in trouble, his family said.

Caitlin Gibson covers Loudoun County for The Washington Post.
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