Parents of slain northern Virginia teen forgive man who shot boy to death
STERLING, Va. — The parents of a northern Virginia teenager have a message for the man who shot and killed the 16-year-old: They don't blame him. They forgive him.
The teen, Caleb Gordley, died Sunday, shot and killed by his neighbor two doors down. His parents, Shawn and Jennea Gordley, said Caleb sneaked out of the house Saturday night and went drinking with some friends. When he returned early Sunday, he mistakenly climbed through a back window of the wrong house, which looks very similar to his own.
Inside the house, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, the homeowner called 911 to report an intruder, confronted Caleb and fatally shot him.
Caleb's mother, Jennea, said Tuesday that she believed the shooting was an accident.
“I don't even blame the gentleman,” Jennea Gordley said. “I don't know what I would have done.”
Caleb had been grounded Saturday night, so he sneaked out of the house to attend a party in the neighborhood for about two hours, his father said.
“I'm not the strictest father, but I have a lot of rules,” he said.
Caleb and his friends walked back after the party and tried to sneak Caleb back in the house at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. They ended up in the backyard of their neighbor, who has a similar home and fenced-in backyard. The Gordleys moved to the home in May. Most of the two-story single-family homes on the street have similar features.
Caleb went into the neighbor's house through an unlocked back window, Shawn Gordley said.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman said the shooting involves a “tragic set of circumstances.”
“My heart just breaks for this family,” Chapman said.
Investigators have no reason to believe that Caleb entered the home with any intent to commit a crime, Chapman said, but his presence in the home was itself a crime.
No charges have been filed in the shooting, though the case was still under review.
On Tuesday, the Gordleys recalled the harrowing circumstances of Caleb's birth, when complications threatened the life of both mother and baby. They focused on the time they had with their son, rather than the time they have lost.
“We got 16½ awesome years out of this young man,” Shawn Gordley said. “We could have had none.”