On Tuesday morning, Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested two Sterling teens in connection with the series of drive-by shootings in Sterling Park early between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., July 19.
The teens, both 16 years old, allegedly shot at five homes in the area of Aster Terrace, Holborn Court and North Argonne Avenue and hospitalized one man sleeping in his bedroom on Coventry Square. The Asian teen and Hispanic teen stole two firearms used in the drive-by shootings, in addition to jewelry and bullet casings, from a Cameron Court home on July 15, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The two teens have also been tied to the theft of a 1997 Toyota Corolla. The car was reported stolen from a North Amelia Street home at 10 p.m., July 18. Sheriff’s Office deputies recovered the car on Harry Byrd Highway, after being set on fire.
The juveniles have been charged with malicious wounding, five counts of missile into an occupied dwelling, five counts of reckless use of a firearm, one count of use of a firearm during the commission of a felony, burglary, auto theft and arson.
Commonwealth Attorney James Plowman said the teens will come into the system as juveniles, but it is likely they will be charged as adults, based on the severity of crimes they are being charged with.
"It’s certainly an option we’re looking at," Plowman said. "We’re leaning toward trying them as adults. We look more toward the crime itself rather than whether a person is 17 or 18 years old."
SHERIFF STEPHEN O. Simpson said the boys’ motive was gang related.
One of the two boys was either kicked out of or excluded from joining a local gang, Simpson said.
The teens retaliated by shooting at least three targeted homes, including the home of the injured man, who is in critical but stable condition at Washington Hospital Center.
"We’re still trying to determine if all the homes were targeted or just some of them," Simpson said.
At a press conference Tuesday, the sheriff wouldn’t say which gang the teens were associated with, but said they didn’t appear to be tied to a regional gang.
"They’re calling themselves a gang, but as far as we can tell they’re part of a smaller, spin-off group," Simpson said.
THE SHERIFF’S Office chalked the arrests up to "a lot of leg work," Simpson said.
Simpson said the deputies worked hard on this case because it put a lot of fear into the Sterling Park community.
According to Simpson, the teens were familiar to law-enforcement officials and the Regional Gang Task Force prior to the shootings. In fact, they were being investigated in connection to the burglaries, which ultimately led deputies to the stolen guns believed to be used in the drive-by shootings.
"The shooting case is pretty much resolved," Simpson said. "We feel the weapons we recovered were involved in the drive-by shootings."
Simpson wouldn’t release the types of guns used in the shootings, because the burglary is still under investigation.
Another Sterling 16-year-old boy was arrested in relation to the burglary, but not the drive-by shootings.
All three boys are being held at the Juvenile Detention Center in Leesburg. They are scheduled to appear in court in two weeks.