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UPDATE: Chesterfield Police have ‘lead’ in Brendon Mackey death

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) – Chesterfield Police have told Brendon Mackey's mother there is a person of interest in her son's case, his mother confirmed to CBS 6.

Mackey is the seven-year-old boy killed by celebratory gunfire as he walked with his father to see fireworks at the Boathouse in Brandermill, on Fourth of July.

At a press conference Friday, Chesterfield Police were semantically cautious, and preferred to use the word "lead" over person of interest, which is what CBS 6 reporter Jon Burkett was initially told by police that they had, and person of interest is the term that Mackey's mother confirmed police used when they talked to her.

Mackey's mother said the case detective told her about the update on Tuesday.

"Police told me there was a person of interest in 2013 and when they went to him he wouldn't turn over the gun, but they arrested him recently on a firearm charge," Mackey said.

Right now, former Chesterfield firefighter John Gardner II is being heldat the Riverside Regional Jail. Last Tuesday he was arrested and charged with DWI, and leaving the scene of an accident.

But two days later, police were called to his Ashbrook community home, adjacent to Woodlake, for another reason.

Brendon MackeyWhat they found may help them solve a mystery that has haunted central Virginia for the last nine months.

Police were called to the former Chesterfield firefighter's home about three in the afternoon, a week ago, after neighbors reported hearing shots fired.

According to an affidavit, a woman who was inside the house told police it was Gardner who fired the gun. Officers then entered the home to check on his welfare, and found a gun lying next to him, with a bullet ricochet mark on the tile floor and a bullet hole in the wall, according to the affidavit.

Gardner was charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling. In addition to attempted malicious wounding times three, he has been charged with use of a firearm in commission of a felony, felony child endangerment times two, and violation of a protective order times two.

CBS 6 was there to shoot exclusive video of a handcuffed Gardner being put into the back of a police cruiser outside his home. [COMPLETE COVERAGE: CBS 6 legal analyst on “lead” in Mackey case]

Chesterfield police forensics officers spent hours removing bullet fragments from the wall, along with other evidence.

The search warrant shows the following items taken from Gardner’s home:

  • Seven bullet fragments
  • Bullet casing
  • A Glock 23 handgun
  • Glock magazine
  • Nine .40 caliber rounds
  • One loose .40-caliber round

Chesterfield police said the bullet that struck and killed Brendon Mackey was fired from a .40-caliber gun.

Police said the .40 caliber gun they took from Gardner is undergoing testing and is the eigth weapon they've sent to the lab in the past nine months, since the shooting.

Police believe the bullet likely came from within a one-mile radius of Sunday Park (PHOTO: Chesterfield Police)

Police believe the bullet likely came from within a one-mile radius of Sunday Park (PHOTO: Chesterfield Police)

Gardner`s home is located just outside a search radius that Chesterfield police and agents have been canvassing for nearly nine months.

They’ve gone door to door, looking for the person and weapon that fired the lethal shot.

While investigators are now calling him a person of interest in the case, police have not yet named Gardner as a suspect, but police tell us the rounds found inside his home has piqued their interest - saying it's something they cannot overlook.

This news comes the week that Governor Terry McAuliffe signed SB 65, or "Brendon's Law" into effect.

Click here for complete coverage of the Brendon Mackey case. Stay with CBS 6 News and for the latest developments of this story.



  • Mari Bonomi

    Glad they seem to have some hope of solving this, finally.

    BTY, it’s “piqued” their interest, not “peeked” :)

  • robert

    Smart phones getting smarter an smarter. That the auto correct feature alao predicts what your typeing faster than you can type it but some times. When your driveing ( hopefully as a passenger ) you hit a pot hole and get something totaly differeant. Peaked intrest would have worked in that situation but piqued spells correctly g

  • Ron Melancon

    Another possible cold case solved! He is paid public servant and nobody who knew came forward? If he is the one then who knew and did not gone forward? He is trained to save lives but it is he who decided to take one! Just like other fireman who decides to build a homemade trailer and homemade hitches with no product liability and these careless fireman drive a defective trailer on public roads these people need to be held accountable for what they do even if they are fireman

    • That Guy

      Ron, what proof do you have that 1) he actually committed the crime or 2) that even if he did, that ANYONE else knew about it or 3) that he did it intentionally (“he decided to take one”)? Your anti-government employee rants got old several years ago…

    • BB

      Ron you are an idiot . First off lets set the record straight, he is no longer career firefighter. John left Chesterfield over a year ago. PSTD has nothing to do with this. The NRA has nothing to do with this. Every time a weapon is involved in a crime and seized it will be tested to see if it has a history. To the ones who think police and fire are not heros, think about this.Your mother was just resucitated from a heart attack or your infant son was just pulled from a burning house, both to to spend another precious day with you . You awake in the night with an intruder in your house, his intent to take your property or possibly your life Those people didnt wake up this morning saying I think I will go out and be a hero today. They were just doing their job. Risking thier lives for someone they do not know. Remember they have families that they leave each day, to go to a job that they may not come home from. And if they do not return, he or she made the ultimate sacrifice for you. That’s a HERO. People from all walks of life experience problems whether being drugs or alcohol. Guess what Ron, police and firefighters are human and can experience these same problems. We are not perfect. So the next time you start to criticise some one, look into your perfect world and see what your faults are. If you havent figured it out yet, I am a career firefighter of over 34 years and I was working that terrible night. I know personally the firefighters and police that were there and the pain they felt in dealing with the death of a child. This is one of the worst experiences a public safety provider will ever encounter. I am not defending the actions of the former firefighter, but we do live in a country where we are tried in a court of law and not in the media. Lets wait and see where the information gathered takes us, and not form an opinion on a misinformed news reporter.

      • forthetruth

        BB you are obviously extremely uneducated when it comes to John Gardner. He was FIRED from CFD more than a year ago after drug and alcohol abuse and spitting in a battalion chiefs face. He also shot at his girlfriend and two children. Sadly facts are facts and this is not a man that deserves your excuses or cover ups from the CFD any longer.

  • trip

    ron you say the same thing in every post about the trailers,shut it.Bet my antique car I run those tags on by the way is in better shape then your pos that will last 5 years at most.Either tell you story or go away,ok

  • sw

    It’s truly sad that someone who most deem a hero would possibly be connected to such a horrible thing. I really hope for this family there is some closure.

    • Gerry

      To many he is still a hero. I guess that being a firefighter has left him with PTSD. It is so sad when heroes fall from grace. If he fired the gun, he was being irresponsible, but hardly malicious. All of you posters, please restrain your snraky comments.

      • BO

        here we go with excuses does a firefighter and a retired one at that have it?A drunk who totally disregarded his duty to serve the public.throw away the key like anyone else would have done to them.

      • forthetruth

        Gerry honestly do those you deem as heroes in some people’s eyes shoot a gun aimed at their children and girlfriend? This man has an extensive history if you would take a moment to research him. Let’s stop the political correctness in this world as well as the excuses and call these people what they really are – cowards and criminals.

      • LM

        SB that’s spelled wear not where. A hero can come in many colors camo, blue, grey, green ect. or no uniform at all. There are police, fire and soldiers performing heroic deeds everyday. But there also is heroes that are young , elderley, male and female that also perform heroic task with no uniform color at all. So dont be so closed minded with a comment that a uniform that is camo is the only hero out there. Does your job put you in danger of losing your life or just a nasty paper cut. All persons that put thier lives in peril whether public safety, military or civilian to help those in need are a hero.

    • athynz

      Blaming the NRA for this man’s personal issues is like blaming Obama for all of the snow we’ve had this winter. IOW the snow is not Obama’s fault nor are the personal issues of Mr Gardner the NRA’s fault. Nor is it the NRA’s “fault” he has a gun – that is due to his right under the Second Amendment.

      Do we need some sort of control – yes. But gun control based on some sort of common sense plan and not just making it harder for those citizens who do not make the news and carry guns. At the very least we need to regulate guns and gun owners like some states regulate cars and drivers – with yearly inspections, licensing, and testing of the gun owner’s knowledge and psychological state.

      To comment on the story itself he’s a person of interest – that does not mean that he did the crime. So far all of the evidence is circumstantial. If the ballistics test clears him then he’s innocent in the murder of Brenden Mackey. If the ballistics match then that dude needs to go to prison for a very long time or have a seat in the high voltage chair.

      • David

        You just made a convoluted argument for “blaming the NRA”. You are apparently psychologically incapable of recognizing your own contradictions. Maybe if you read your own comments? BTW, the requirements for gun ownership you suggested would appease the most draconian gun control advocates.

      • Belsma

        Who can I “blame” for the pollen? I have no idea who killed Brendon, but I hope whoever did will pay the price. I can only begin to imagine his parents pain.

      • athynz

        Belsama – I agree with you. I could not imagine that pain they are going through with the loss of their child. I hope that the ballistics come back positive so this family will have some closure and the person who did this will pay however until they do come back as positive then man should be considered innocent of the crime.

  • angela

    so he is a “person of interest” because he has the right type of gun? I hope this guy did do it cause if not he is already guilty for a childs death in the eyes of the ublic :(

  • MS

    So, because he is a person of interest, the public already concludes he is guilty. Sad. The fact that it is the same type gun may be purely coincidental. His next door neighbor, living in the same radius, may have the same gun and be the guilty party. A rush to judgement doesn’t always lead to the real person who committed the crime. History is full of the stories; remember Richard Jewell, 1996 Olympics bombing? Forget lawyers, judge, and jury. The public and the media will judge and convict. Sad. I hope the true perpetrator is caught, not the first person that is close enough for the public to be satisfied. The family and the public deserve that much.

  • RVA Excapee

    Minor point of order here, Brendon’s Law is not applicable in the case of manslaughter (negligent homicide).


    Apparently, you’re guilty now from trial-by-news. What happened to that little boy was terrible. But the man hasn’t even been named a suspect yet and everyone has already condemned him.

  • nateog

    well, until they run forensics on the bullet, they should just have not even implicated him with this boy. and if it is the gun that killed the boy, just wow, cause who keeps a murder weapon, much less use it again. i guess that’s my non criminal mentality.

  • jannie

    i think people are jumping the gun prematurely, they have nothing tying that man to the case, however, he happens to have the same kind of gun just as thousands of other people, i dont think they should have made a story about it just on a assumption, they clearly say he is not a person of interest. I can understand the law looking into it and testing his weapon to make sure since the weapon is simular, but they could have done that behind the scene instead of blasting it .

  • Huh?

    The range of the bullet could be up to 1 mile? The guy’s neighborhood is at least twice the distance (anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000 approx. feet) from Sunday Park? Something does not add up.

  • SmeebJeeb

    It is irresponsible of the Police to link this man to the Sunday Park death, based on the info here. Yes, it’s exciting and all to announce this at a news conference, but it’s not fair to the boy’s parents.

    • BO

      The media condemned him as soon as this was printed.I think they should have waited before saying anything.why put it out like this when they really don’t know yet?

  • BB

    I want to add this to my comment. I want to express my deepest sorrow to Brendon’s family and I hope they can find peace and rest in the days to come. I know this will be a most difficult time and that God give you comfort and strength to see you through. God Bless Brendon and his family

  • WorkingMan

    Firefighter, police, military, milkman — whatever. A person is NOT a hero if they kill a child (or adult) and hide from the law. That’s what lowlife criminals do. So stop the pseudo-patriotic babble about how this & that person might save your life one day. Might, schmight. It means nothing unless they do.

    • lm

      Where in any of these post are people saying that if you kill a child or adult you are a hero, You might want to try reading them again I believe you missed the point. I will agree with you that if you commit a crime you need to step up and pay the consiquences. But I do not agree in convicting a person in the media. Everyone needs to slow down and wait for the facts to come out instead of going at this misinformed. Another point I will agree with you on is that no matter what your profession is, it does not put you above the law. If the man is guilty let the courts decide and set the punishment. But what gives you the right to judge him without the facts or any knowledge of the incident. It sounds like you are one to believe everything you hear or read in the news. And whats the BS about the pseudo patriotic babble. You sound like the type of person that if you do not directly benefit from a service then its of no use to you. Im sure the families of all the lives that were saved across the county by fire and ems personnel would beg to differ. Im sure the presence of that police officer riding through your neighborhood didnt deter a crime. You know maybe you are right, why waste our money on something they MIGHT do for me

  • forthetruth

    John Gardner shot at his girlfriend and two children. This man was fired from CFD and on the night he was arrested for DWI he showed a badge and impersonated a Chesterfield County firefighter which the department is well aware of. We all deserve to know the truth and Mr. Gardner must face the consequences of all his actions at some point. The department covered for him long enough in hopes he would get the help he needed and deserved however futile the efforts were. When ssomeone has the type of history that includes using a gun against his vvery own children and girlfriend and just the night before was charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident as well as his prior histories it is time he pay for his crimes whether it be in public or private. Shame on those of us who covered for this unnapreciative man over the past few years. It’s time for us all to put the truth out once and for all.

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