TEXAS CITY — An 8-year-old boy who was shot in the face by a 7-year-old relative in a West Texas City apartment complex on Thursday “is out of the woods,” and is expected to live, police said.

As police continue to piece together what led to the shooting, investigators are trying to find the man who was supposed to be keeping watch over the boys.

The boy, who has not been identified because of his age, was one of three children, ages 7, 8 and 9, left unattended in an apartment at the Harbor Oaks complex, 8601 Emmett F Lowry Expressway, police said.

The 8-year-old and 9-year-old boys are brothers who live in the apartment with their mother and her boyfriend. The 7-year-old is the cousin of the shooting victim and was visiting the day of the shooting.

Texas City Police Captain Joe Stanton said the boy underwent and was recovering in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

Stanton got an update from medical officials Friday afternoon that reported that while still in critical condition, he “is out of the woods, as far as life threatening injuries are concerned,” and the boy was expected to live. 

Stanton said the 7-year-old who police believe pulled the trigger wouldn’t face any charges given his age. However, the boyfriend who was supposed to be watching the boys could face criminal charges police said. 

State law makes it illegal for an adult to leave a gun unsecured when there are children in the home.

“We don’t know where he was,” Stanton said. “We are attempting to verify his whereabouts.”

For now investigators just want to talk with the man.

That proved difficult the day after the shooting, as police had been unable to locate the boyfriend, Stanton said. 

“We’re trying to run him down so we can ask him some questions,” Stanton said. Police are not identifying the man.

The mother, who Stanton said is a home health worker, was at work at the time of the shooting. She has been at the hospital with her son since the shooting.

Stanton said there was no indication the .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol used in the shooting was kept in a lock box or had a trigger guard.

Police are not saying if they think the shooting was accidental or deliberate.  

Investigators are still trying to piece together what led to the shooting, Stanton said.

“We cannot determine whose gun it is at this time,” he said. “We have several interviews scheduled (Friday) and hope to have a clearer picture on (the boyfriend’s) whereabouts and the person responsible for the gun.”

Child Advocacy Center experts were interviewing the children involved, Stanton said.

Child Protective Services is also conducting an investigation.

Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds may be reached at 409-683-5334 or tjaulds@galvnews.com.

(4) comments

Jill Presnal

The picture of this child in an emergency situation is so inappropriate for a front page news story. This is a little boy. Shame on the newspaper.

Linda Vaccaro

Maybe this should be shown on the front page to remind people to NOT leave children home alone and to LOCK-UP any firearms! How often does this have to happen before people wise-up? Always? Let's hope not!

Lanette Harris

I totally agree jillpresnal. The severity of the story could have been played out in so many more respectful pictures than one of the injured child with a blood soaked bandage or his mother trying to compose herself. I am not saying a picture should not have been included but maybe a more tasteful one than that of a child being cared for in such a delicate pose.

Richard Worth

LV, people will only wise up after a few are jailed for a good stretch. And even that's not guaranteed.

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