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Updated: Sterling homeowner shoots alleged teen trespasser

The first few hours of St. Patrick's Day quickly devolved into tragedy after a Sterling homeowner shot and killed a Park View High School student in the early hours of March 17.

According to reports from the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, the incident occurred around 2:30 a.m., when 16-year-old Caleb Gordley entered a neighbor's home on the 45900 block of Pullman Court in Sterling mistakenly thinking it was his own home.

The resident was alerted by a house alarm and discovered Gordley on the stairwell. Gordley was killed at the scene.

Gordely's father took to Twitter to explain that the younger Gordley had sneaked out earlier in the evening to go to a party, where the teen reportedly drank alcohol. Later, a friend helped him hop the fence and climb through a window to what they thought was the Gordley residence.

“Caleb climbed through an UNLOCKED window and staggered up the staircase that is identical to mine,” the elder Gordley said on Twitter.
Sheriff Mike Chapman confirmed the account of events at a press conference March 19 in Sterling.

“There doesn't seem to be any indication at this point that Caleb had gone into the house to commit any further crime. It's obviously a crime to break into the house at two in the morning,” Chapman said. “It appears at this point he entered the incorrect house.”

Otherwise, Chapman remained tight-lipped, releasing no new information, including whether a confrontation occurred, the type of firearm or even the amount of shots fired.

“It's irresponsible of us to release anything that's not verified,” Chapman said.

Gordley was a junior at the nearby Park View High School. He was active in school athletics, participating in football, basketball and baseball for the Patriots. An aspiring rapper, Gordley wrote his own music, often performing on the sidelines during games. He used the moniker “Prince George” and classmates have been writing long live Prince George on Twitter.

“He was very well-liked and very free spirited,” said Wayde Byard, public information officer for Loudoun County Public Schools. “His friends said he was goofy, but in a good way.”

Classmates of Gordley's took to Twitter to mourn the loss of their peer.

"I love you Caleb Allen James Gordley, truly. I wish I could've expressed myself before you were stolen," one teen wrote.

"Probably the only moment of silence this year where the whole school felt absolutely still," said another.

An informal assembly was held before school March 18 at the behest of students. Approximately 200 students attended, signing cards for Gordley's family as they entered.

Additionally, a crisis team has been assigned to Park View High School composed of ten counselors and social workers.

According to Liz Mills, the director of media relations for the LCSO, the name of the shooter is being withheld as he has not been formally charged. The investigation is still ongoing and police are awaiting a full report, including a toxicology report, from the medical examiner.

People with information regarding the case are asked to call the Criminal Investigations Division at 703-777-0475.

This story was originally reported here.
Information on the Caleb Gordley vigil is available here.


Yes we do have a right to end someones life. And that is to preserve the lives of the innocent. Otherwise police wouldn’t carry weapons. Lets get real here. Thats not to say its still not a tragedy. This boys behavior was so bazaar you have to wonder if it was more than alcohol involved. Its EXTREMELY sad but the homeowner was justified. Either way God bless everyone involved.


Yes, in fact, they do, if the motive is self defense.  Law-abiding citizens, as well as our law enforcement officers, don’t ever want to find themselves in a situation where they may have to kill someone who is trying to do them or their loved ones harm, but sometimes it becomes necessary.

“I will always remain firm about the fact that Caleb’s death was completely unnecessary and that the home owner overreacted.”

You’re entitled to your opinion, but the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office will have the last say in that.  And so far, no charges are being filed.

“As for the drinking among teenagers, we all must create and develop programs to maintain our teenagers engaged in healthy activities.”

Actually, what we need is more parents to be involved in their childrens’ lives, not babysitting services for teenagers whose parents aren’t engaging with them.  Now, from all accounts, Caleb’s parents were involved with him, but he sadly disobeyed and paid a high price for that.  And this is the discussion parents should be having with their children in light of this incident.

Ctellez - You are being obtuse. Almost anytime someone is breaking into a home they have ill intent and the homeowner was not out to kill someone his goal was to protect his family.

Yes I feel the rights of a homeowner trump that of a person breaking in.

To those who felt compelled to address my comments.  NOBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO END A LIFE. 
This will be my last posting regarding this article, but as more information comes out, I will always remain firm about the fact that Caleb’s death was completely unnecessary and that the home owner overreacted.
As for the drinking among teenagers, we all must create and develop programs to maintain our teenagers engaged in healthy activities. A good example of this is The Old Fire House Teen Center in McLean.

Sorry to hear that this happened.  Think about what you would expect to happen if you were to enter someone else’s home at that hour of the morning trying to sneak into what you thought was your bedroom.

This didn’t have to happen.  Whoever provided the alcohol is also partly responsible.  Kids, if you are reading this, there IS a reason why you shouldn’t be drinking alcohol much less drink until you lose judgement.  Remember this the next time.

VTPhiDelt - I know my neighbors.  I like them.  If one of them were to break into my house at 2:30am, try to come upstairs, and not leave when told, they’d be catching as many rounds as it takes to remove them as a threat.


No one here has said or even remotely implied that this young man’s tragic death is a “joke”.  Several of us have indicated that our prayers are with his family, and the family of the homeowner.  Please read carefully the comments posted here, including the details from the Washington Post.  Your shouting at others in print does not advance your arguments and and comes off as hysteria.

longtimeloudouner—who ever you are—THE TRAGIC DEATH OF A TEENAGER IS NO JOKE, what planet are you from. I assume you live in Loudoun for the same reason that all of us live there, because it’s safe and it has a sense of community.  So why not pause and reason first?
Before you place sarcastic remarks, think first and don’t just blurb unwarranted statements.

I hope the LCSO & Commonwealth Attorney expand their investigation as to where this party took place, who supplied the alcohol and what friends(?) dropped him off – these are the ones to blame.

Ctellez - You seem to assume the homeowner just shot the young man but its not the case, he called 911, he gave a verbal warning, he even fired a warning shot but the young man kept coming. There is no way to know the boy was just drunk or if he was a violent thief. The homeowner was protecting his family.

Even the young mans parents have said they understand why he fired the weapon and this is just a terrible set of mistakes stemming from his intoxicated state.

My heart goes out to Caleb’s friends and family; he seemed to be a good and promising young man who made a mistake. However I cannot blame the homeowner anymore than I would blame ford if the young man died drunk driving.

Ctellez, please tell me your joking.  You’re telling me that someone breaks into your house at 2:30 in the morning and your just going to stop, identify the intruder and find out why they are there??  The kid made a tragic mistake and unfortunately he paid for it with his life.  The homeowner made NO mistake.  He protected his family, which he has the right, and obligation to do in that situation.

We don’t yet have the facts so let’s not try to fit this story into our particular favorite cartoon version of reality.  Life is complicated and there are many, many questions raised by an incident like this.

Let’s grieve for the poor kid and his family and hope that the person who shot him had a reason that he can live with for the rest of his life.

@ Jeanne
Thanks for the additional info. How tragic for everyone. The poor parents. The poor home owner. My understanding is he’s a fire fighter and a really nice guy (heard this from a neighbor).
If you think about the angle, if he was at the top of the stairs and the young man was coming up, pretty much any shot is going to be a kill shot. It’s not like you can aim for a leg or anything at that point.

Jeanne info makes sense…sneaking in an open window so as not to wake his parents since he’d snuck out….perhaps he didn’t stop when the alarm went off because he was trying to get back to his bedroom before his parents woke up…who knows…it’s just sad all the way around.  The real question is: will there be an investigation into this party and will anyone be held accountable for supplying alcohol to a minor?  My guess is no.  Sad…just sad.

This is indeed a tragedy & I will pray for the boy & his family but you have to give the homeowner a break. If someone was on your stairs at that hour you would be nothing less than terrified. That area has had home invasions dispite another posts inaccurate statement & they too were shot. And that area has been the target of a string of break-ins in recent years. Mine was one of them & I live 200 yards from these people. Try to imagine, the homeowner had his family behind him & an intruder allegedly not responding to commands coming up the stairs in front of him. So you can chalk this tragedy up to alcohol abuse not a homeowner trying to protect his family. If he is charged with anything it will be an outrage!

I appalled at some of these comments. As a mother of teenagers and resident of Sterling, I am deeply concern with the level of violence as a result of a presumed break in.  What happened to finding out who or why first and make use of reason before using guns?  We were all teenagers once and I am sure some of us more than others did things we rather not remember.  Shame on people who rush to using guns without first taking a moment to analyze the full consequences of ending a life so young and full of hopes. My deepest condolences to the parents of this boy.

Ed Myers - There have been cases of guns being pulled on homeowners who interrupted thieves in an open garage. Guns pulled in purse snatching at Walmart. In 2010 a home invasion with what turned out to be a fake gun. There was a reporter murdered last year. There have been several random murders over the years including the Bennett case.

Lets get real here for a minute. The root issue was the young mans drunken state. It caused this confrontation not the homeowner trapped in his upper floor with a stranger advancing on him.

Its tragic but again if Caleb was not drunk this would never have happened.

“If one reads the police blotter the most frequent reports of home invasions are people who walk in the open garage door (or open the garage door with the remote in the unlocked car) to do petty theft.  There have not been home invasions with the intent to harm or kill occupants in Loudoun County in the recent past.  Therefore a reasonable person should expected a home invader to be a thief and turned on the lights to scare them away—not ambush them in the dark stairwell and kill them. Killing someone to protect one’s property is not valid self defense.  I’d want this homeowner to have had recent threats on his life to convince me that he reasonably feared for his life.”

The above comments would appear to originate from a passive-aggressive personality.  The fact that Mr. Myers cannot even offer condolences to the victim’s family is quite revealing, but not surprising. Ed Myers is entitled to his pacifist views; I reject that philosophy as inherently immoral and cowardly.

The real lesson here is that a young man disobeyed his parents and tragically was killed as a result, and his parents are grieving, yet Mr. Myers deliberately chooses to ignore that.

And once again, my deepest condolences to everyone involved in this tragic incident.  This is a time when we should be focusing on their grief.

“Killing someone to protect one’s property is not valid self defense.  I’d want this homeowner to have had recent threats on his life to convince me that he reasonably feared for his life.”

I think he should have handed him a questionnaire to complete as to his intention before he shot the person that invaded him home at 2:30 in the morning.

Very very sad situation. There are all kinds of issues with this, #1 230am why was he out - did his parents know where he was, he is a Jr drinking, parents wake up my child is a senior and says 95% of the kids drink clear liquor in water bottles. Starting their Freshman year. Pay attention to your kids.  His friends are they that inconsiderate to drop him off and not make sure he got in his house ok, what kind of friends are they, probably had been drinking also.  The homeowner, let me tell you someone enters my house at 230am I dont have a gun but I will come out swinging my bat and ask questions later.  This whole incident is very very sad.  Kids read these remarks dont let the next tragedy be you, think of your parents yourself make smart decisions you are ultimatley held accountable.  Parents start getting involved in your childrens lives pay attention

Well, said “Friend”.  This is a tragedy, the result of youthful folly.  Teens, learn a lesson from this.  There is a grieving father and mother.  My prayers are with everyone affected by this.  Here’s what the Washington Post has to say this morning:

“Caleb Gordley wanted to go to a party Saturday night. But the 16-year-old was grounded because he hadn’t cleaned his room. So he decided he’d sneak out of his Loudoun County house to be with his friends.

“When he left the party about 2 a.m., Caleb needed to sneak home. His friends dropped him off and helped hoist him through a back window. But Caleb had been drinking and had gone to the wrong house. The brick homes on his street are similar, and Caleb was two doors down from his own.

“The homeowner heard his burglar alarm sound, grabbed his gun and went to investigate. When the two met on the stairs inside the house, the man said he told the teen to leave and fired a warning shot, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation.

Caleb didn’t stop, and the home-owner fired again, striking and killing the teen, the official said.”

If one reads the police blotter the most frequent reports of home invasions are people who walk in the open garage door (or open the garage door with the remote in the unlocked car) to do petty theft.  There have not been home invasions with the intent to harm or kill occupants in Loudoun County in the recent past.  Therefore a reasonable person should expected a home invader to be a thief and turned on the lights to scare them away—not ambush them in the dark stairwell and kill them. Killing someone to protect one’s property is not valid self defense.  I’d want this homeowner to have had recent threats on his life to convince me that he reasonably feared for his life.

There must be some severe liability for whomever supplied this teen with alcohol.  Something along the lines of the felony-murder statutes: if a store sells alcohol to a teen who ends up dead because of intoxicated actions, then the store should be held accountable for the wrongful death, whether it was foreseeable or not.

I grew up in Sterling, and if a kid who lives TWO DOORS DOWN from you is a stranger, then I feel sorry for Sterling.

When somebody breaks into your house in the middle of the night, you don’t ask if they are drunk and in the wrong place. All you know is you and your family is in danger and it’s either you or them.

If anybody is at fault in this tragedy, it is whomever supplied this teen with alcohol.

I know the homeowner and he is an incredibly nice and kind guy who has dedicated much of his life to helping his community.  He is soft spoken, well educated, and not the type who is looking for trouble. 

Is this a tragedy?  No doubt, for ALL involved.  Could it have been avoided?  Well, sure…many ways—by the teen not drinking, by the teens’ friends making sure that he got into his house safely when they dropped him off, by the teen not trying to enter the wrong house, by the teen realizing that he was in the wrong house when he heard the alarm sound, and, yes, by the homeowner not shooting…but let’s not pretend that we have any idea how that homeowner felt in that moment.

Ask yourself, how would you feel when you are suddenly woken up at 2:30 AM by your house alarm with your child asleep in another bedroom?  A bit or terror perhaps?  An immediate protective instinct?  How would you then feel when you go to investigate and you are met on the stairs by a tall stranger who doesn’t seem bothered by the audible alarm sounding and who is coming upstairs where you and your child are? 

We can all pretend to think that we would know how we would feel in that situation, but unless your answer is “terrified”, you are probably kidding yourself.  The homeowner was almost certainly in fear for his life and that of his child’s.

You don’t enter a stranger’s house at 2:30 AM.  That is common sense.  We have no idea why Caleb did so.  It was almost certainly a mistake…and we shouldn’t have to pay for a mistake with our lives, but some mistakes end up that way..especially when we have been drinking.  It’s tragic, but the homeowner didn’t cause this tragedy.

My most sincere sympathies and condolences to Caleb’s family and friends.  You and Caleb are in my prayers.  You also W.

So sad….

looks like the rumors may have been accurate (my first post was before the update)

Too bad the young man was drunk.  Who gave him the alcohol?  It’s a high price to pay for getting drunk and breaking in to someone’s home.  He has broken his parents’ hearts.

@EdMyers “How did the intruder get inside?  Open door, garage, or what?”

Reference fourth paragraph, second sentence of the article: “A rear window was found open -though not broken- and police believe it to be the point of entry.”

To bad the homeowner wasn’t capable of a less deadly solution. 

How did the intruder get inside?  Open door, garage, or what?

It looks like this article was updated just as I posted my previous comment….however, the WAPO and WTOP still have more details than this.

The Washington Post and WTOP News have much more detail on this incident.  According to the Washington Post”

“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…..Before the teen was shot, one law enforcement source said, he tried to walk upstairs, where the homeowner’s family was sleeping…...[the homeowner] has been a Sterling volunteer firefighter for nearly two decades.”

Incredibly drunk but still able to break into the wrong house?  Kinda hard to buy that one as more than a rumor.  Definitely sad if he wasn’t intentionally trying to break in to someone else’s home.

Sad at so many levels….the victim, his family, the homeowner…knowing it was a drunk minor who simply was intoxicated.  Sympathy and prayers to all involved.

I have a daughter that goes to Park View. Rumor is, among the students (as of yesterday), that the young man was quite intoxicated and entered the wrong house by mistake.
I have no idea how accurate that is.
Tragic nonetheless.

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