The teenager had been drinking, and his friends drove him to his home in Sterling at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, law enforcement officials said. But instead of walking into his house on the quiet cul-de-sac, they said, the teen entered a similar-looking red brick home in the same block.
Inside, the startled homeowner confronted the teen, authorities said, before shooting and killing him. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office described the shooting as a homeowner killing an unknown intruder, although officials released few details about the shooting.
Sheriff’s officials declined to release the name of the teen or the homeowner. No criminal charges have been filed.
It is unclear why the teen went into the wrong home, how he got inside or what kind of exchange he had with the homeowner. Law enforcement officials said that they believe the teenager did not have a gun and that it is possible he entered the home through a rear window, although they were still investigating. It was unclear whether the homeowner and the intruder knew each other; neighbors said the teen was relatively new to the neighborhood.
“It’s awfully tragic,” said Joanna Roman, who lives near the home in the 45900 block of Pullman Court where the shooting took place. The houses are in the Lochewood Manor community, just south of Claude Moore Park near Routes 28 and 7.
On Sunday, police were walking back and forth between the home of the teen and the house where he was shot, which are on the same side of the street and have just one house between them. Both are neatly kept two-story houses with green front yards and two-car garages; both were built at the same time — when the community was developed about a decade ago — and have similar designs and trim.
Before the teen was shot, one law enforcement source said, he tried to walk upstairs, where the homeowner’s family was sleeping.
Attempts to reach the teenager’s family were unsuccessful, and a woman who answered the door at his home declined to comment.
The teen and his family moved into the house about a year ago, according to neighbors. Several neighbors said that they did not know the family well and that there seemed to be other people, possibly renters, sharing the house.
In recent years, neighbors said, several families and groups of people had lived there.
The home where the shooting occurred belongs to Donald West Wilder II, according to neighbors and real estate records. Neighbors said that Wilder has lived in the home for about nine years and that he has been a Sterling volunteer firefighter for nearly two decades. Wilder did not return calls seeking comment.
“He is a great neighbor, a helper, someone who spends spare time volunteering to help others,” Roman said. “He’s an active member of our community. He’s a good person.”
Khang Nguyen, a neighbor and member of the board of the Lochewood Manor community, said Wilder lives with his teenage daughter. Nguyen called Wilder a “very nice gentleman, very quiet, too.”
Neighbors said that aside from a few car break-ins, the community is relatively crime-free.
Joseph Nelson, who also lives on Pullman Court, said he was surprised such an incident happened on his street.
“It’s kind of shocking in this neighborhood,” he said. “It’s very unfortunate.”
Caitlin Gibson and Julie Tate contributed to this report.
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