A Texas boy who was accidentally shot in the face by his 7-year-old cousin is out of surgery and expected to survive his injuries, police officials told the Los Angeles Times on Friday.
The 8-year-old was struck in the left cheek around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Harbor Oaks Apartments in Texas City, a city of 45,000 roughly 40 miles outside of Houston, accoring to Texas City Police Capt. Joe Stanton.
Emergency crews airlifted the boy to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, where he remains in the pediatric intensive care unit in critical condition.
The victim, his 9-year-old brother and his 7-year-old cousin were all left alone inside an apartment on Thursday after the person their mother asked to watch them left the residence for an unknown reason, Stanton said.
The children later told police that they found a loaded .380 caliber semiautomatic handgun somewhere in the house.
"The 7-year-old was waving it and it went off and struck the 8-year-old in the left cheek," Stanton said. "We don't think it was an intentional act on the part of the 7-year-old."
The babysitter, whom Stanton would describe only as an adult male, was likely a relative. He is considered a "person of interest" in the incident, but Stanton said police have been unable to locate him for an interview.
It was not immediately clear if the gun was registered or who owned the weapon. Stanton said criminal charges cannot be filed against anyone younger than 10 years old by Texas state law, but the person responsible for leaving the gun within reach of the chidlren could face endangerment charges.
The state's child protective services agency is also investigating the incident, which marks the second time this week that a child has been shot by another child after finding an unattended firearm.
A 3-year-old girl was seriously hurt when a 5-year-old shot her in Colorado on Monday, officials have said. A 22-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of child abuse in that case.