Tragedy struck the suburban DC prep sports world when a beloved three-sport athlete at a Virginia high school was shot dead while trying to sneak back into his house after attending a party, only to be killed by a neighbor when he drunkenly broke into the wrong house.
As reported by the Washington Post, 16-year-old Caleb Gordley, a star athlete at Sterling (Va.) Park View High, was attempting to sneak back into his family’s house in Loudoun County, Virginia after he had slipped unnoticed out of his window to attend a late-night party with friends. The teen had been forced to sneak out of the house because he was reportedly grounded for not cleaning his room.
After drinking at the party, Gordley tried to sneak back into his own house. Except Gordley wasn’t at his own house. Instead, he was trying to sneak in through the side window of a house two doors down, all part of a planned development where the houses look almost identical.
When Gordley got through the window the house’s alarm was set off, leading the unnamed home owner to come and confront the teen on the stairs. Wielding a gun, the Loudoun resident fired a warning shot and told Gordley to leave. When he didn’t immediately turn tail and head off -- remember, he was drunk and confused -- the home owner shot and killed the unintentional teen intruder.
The reaction at Park View was immediate, with teens wearing black and orange to school to honor Gordley’s favorite football team, the Cincinnati Bengals, and writing messages of remembrance in the school gym. The Park View junior had emerged as a contributor to the Park View varsity basketball team in the recently completed season and also played varsity football and baseball for the school.
Meanwhile, the man who owns the house where Gordley was shot, who was identified in the Post’s article on the tragedy, has yet to make any public comments. Nor is he likely to be charged. It was his house, after all, and Gordley was an intruder in the middle of the night, even if an unwitting one.
If nothing else, the tragedy speaks to both the dangers of underaged drinking and the silent homogenization of architecture in middle class suburbia. After all, if the two houses hadn’t been mass produced by the same builder in the same development, Gordley probably would have known he was in the wrong place and would still be alive today.
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