Gerard Gomez was angry that a man had displayed a gun during an argument with a friend of Gomez’s at a party last year, so, according to a Fairfax County prosecutor, the teen walked up to the man and asked a question that would lead to his death: “Are you going to use that strap?”
Jose Blanco-Calzadilla, 24, of Mount Vernon took a few steps back and pulled out the handgun. He leveled the gun and fired a single bullet through the 16-year-old’s chest. Gomez fell facedown and died seconds later, the prosecutor said.
Blanco-Calzadilla pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter in Fairfax County Circuit Court after reaching a deal with prosecutors to avoid murder and gun charges. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced July 18 for killing Gomez, a Mount Vernon High School student.
The incident began during a birthday party at a Vienna area Residence Inn on Sept. 14. Former students of Mount Vernon High rented a room and invited friends to the party, but a number of uninvited guests showed up, including Blanco-Calzadilla, said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney John Murphy.
Between 1 and 2 a.m. on
Sept. 15, Blanco-Calzadilla became angry because one of the partygoers had hugged a girl, Murphy said. Blanco-Calzadilla confronted him and pulled up his shirt to show the gun in his waistband.
The incident ended the party, but as people were leaving, Gomez walked up to Blanco-Calzadilla.
Gomez, who had been drinking, was upset that Blanco-Calzadilla had displayed the gun and yelled at the friend. Murphy said Gomez was essentially trying to “call the defendant’s bluff” about using the weapon.
Blanco-Calzadilla opened fire and then left the party.
Blanco-Calzadilla “just turned and walked away,” Murphy said in court.
“There was no indication he was surprised or upset at what he had done.”
Justin Daniel, an attorney for Blanco-Calzadilla, said in court that his client was half Gomez’s size and felt threatened by the teen. He said Gomez had to be restrained by his friends at one point.
He said Blanco-Calzadilla turned himself in the day after the shooting.
“He takes full responsibility,” Daniel said.
Gomez’s relatives declined to comment on the plea.