Man will serve two years in prison for fatally shooting friend in Vienna

The Fairfax County Courthouse (file photo)

A 21-year-old man has been sentenced to serve two years in prison for a fatal shooting at the Vienna Park apartments that the judge described as “a parent’s worst nightmare.”

What began as an intoxicated hangout between friends ended in tragedy when Vienna resident Andrew Gordiyenko shot 21-year-old Matthew Chadwick on June 10, 2021, according to defense attorney Erik Jurgensen’s recounting of the incident at a sentencing hearing on Friday (June 9).

Chadwick died at a hospital the following day, Vienna police reported.

Gordiyenko was arrested on March 14, 2022 and pleaded guilty on Jan. 31 to involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm. A felony charge of unlawful firing in an occupied dwelling had already been dismissed at a Sept. 12 preliminary hearing, per court records.

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Christie Leary sentenced Gordiyenko to five years of incarceration, suspending three of them, followed by two years of active probation. She admitted to struggling with how to balance the need to hold Gordiyenko accountable and the awareness that he didn’t intend to kill his friend.

“All I see is heartbreak,” Leary said, looking out at a courtroom with both Gordiyenko’s parents and Chadwick’s family and supporters. “…What this sentence boils down to is punishment only. I think he’s going to punish himself far worse than I ever could.”

Under the plea agreement, Gordiyenko faced a potential sentence of six to 36 months. At the request of Chadwick’s family, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Jenna Sands called for him to get the maximum term, while Jurgensen argued for a period on the lower end of that range.

“The Gordiyenko family will feel devastation, but it cannot equal the devastation” felt by the Chadwick family, Sands said, advocating for a sentence in line with the wishes of Chadwick’s family to give them “some small amount of control.”

Chadwick’s family declined to comment on the sentencing.

Vienna police officers were dispatched to the 100 block of Patrick St. SE in the early morning hours of June 10, 2021. Upon arriving, they found Chadwick inside an apartment with a gunshot wound to the head, according to the department’s news release.

Video submitted to the court showed Gordiyenko, Chadwick and a third person who was the apartment’s resident all handling the gun while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Jurgensen said, acknowledging that it was “reckless behavior.”

“This case seems to have layer upon layer of sadness,” he said. “We have two young people that were friends, and one is gone and the other is responsible.”

The gun belonged to the third, unidentified person in the apartment. It was a “ghost gun,” a firearm with no serial number that can be assembled from a kit, according to the Office of the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Because ghost guns are technically purchased in parts, they’re not subject to background checks, and the lack of a serial number makes them difficult to trace. In Virginia, it’s not illegal to own a gun without a serial number — but it is a crime to be caught removing it, the commonwealth’s attorney’s office says.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano has advocated for stricter laws on ghost guns, but a bill that would criminalize sales, transfers and purchases died in a Virginia House of Delegates public safety subcommittee on Feb. 22.

“Matthew Chadwick’s death is the result of a tragic incident that didn’t need to end this way,” Descano said in a statement. “When ghost gun manufacturers use loopholes to evade even the most basic gun control laws, they enable access to deadly weapons. All too often, I see how the proliferation of guns in the hands of young people results in unnecessary harm and death.”

The Department of Justice implemented a policy last year that added ghost gun kits to the definition of firearms, requiring manufacturers to be subject to the same licensing and background check regulations as makers of traditional guns.

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