A 16-year-old boy in Sterling, Va., was shot and killed by a neighbor early Sunday morning when he mistakenly entered the home of the neighbor through a back window after sneaking out to go drinking with friends.
The parents of the boy, Caleb Gordley, said their son was drunk and didn’t realize he had entered the wrong house, which is two doors down from his own and looks identical, down to the color of the carpet on the stairs.
The tragic case is yet another example of a life needlessly taken by gun violence. But the teen’s parents, Shawn and Jennea Gordley, said they forgive the shooter and do not blame that individual for what happened.
Shawn Gordley told authorities that the staircase and carpet in the home of his neighbor Donald West Wilder II looks exactly the same as the ones in his own home, so his son thought he was in his own house—particularly since they had been living in the house less than a year. Police say Wilder shot Caleb when the boy ignored his warning and climbed the staircase.
According to the parents, the boy snuck out of the house Saturday night and went drinking with friends. On the way home, Caleb’s friends apparently dropped him off at the wrong house around 2 a.m., and he thought he was sneaking back in through the rear window he had exited hours earlier.
Caleb, a junior at Park View High School, was described by his great aunt, Bonnie Terry, as a great athlete and a talented song writer who played baseball, basketball and football in school.
Police said Caleb triggered a burglar alarm in Wilder’s home that woke them up.
Wilder told police he confronted the teen on the staircase and warned him to leave, but he said he was ignored, prompting him to shoot the boy, killing him.