CRIME

Gerard Gomez, 16, shot to death outside Fairfax hotel; arrest made

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As classmates, family and friends of 16-year-old Gerard Gomez mourned his death Sunday night, authorities say they have a man suspected to be connected with his shooting in custody.

Gerard Gomez, a junior at Mount Vernon High School in Fairfax County, was gunned down early Sunday morning in the parking lot of a Tysons Corner hotel.

Less than a day later, Fairfax County Police officials say that Jose Alberto Blanco-Calzadilla, a 23-year-old Alexandria resident, turned himself in. He has been charged with second-degree murder.

Gomez, a student popular with his peers who competed for the Majors on the school's lacross team, died after being shot at about 2 a.m. Sunday outside the Marriott Residence Inn on Westwood Center Drive.

A party had been going on inside the hotel at the time of the shooting, but a police spokesperson couldn't confirm that Gomez had been in attendance.

While police continue to investigate what led to his shooting, the mourning continues for Gomez, which culminated in a vigil on campus Sunday night.

"To take a 16 year old kid's life...he didn't even get to enjoy it," Gomez's sister, Jocelyn Melendez said. "That's what hurts me the most."

Grief counselors will be available to students and staff on campus Monday.

"I don't know how it could happen to somebody like that. Nobody had a problem with him," Taylor De Frees, Gomez's friend, said. "There was nobody that didn't like him.

"He was probably once of the nicest people you could ever meet. You couldn't take a smile off his face."

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