A grandmother has shot and critically wounded her 7-year-old grandson after mistaking him for an intruder who had broken into her home, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in Florida has revealed.
Linda Maddox, 63, and her twin grandsons were sleeping in a bedroom after her son, who is the boy's father, had left for work at the postal service, deputies said. Maddox told deputies she had placed a chair against the bedroom door handle for extra protection while they slept.
When she heard the chair sliding against the wood floor about 1am Tuesday (5pm Tuesda, NZ time) she assumed it was an intruder and grabbed a loaded .22-calibre revolver she keeps by the bed and fired one shot in the dark toward the door.
Seconds later, she heard her grandson Tyler Maddox scream, deputies said. He was shot once in the upper body. He was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Cristal Bermudez Nunez said Maddox felt unsafe when her son would work overnight, so she would bring her grandchildren into the bedroom with her and block the door with a leaning chair. She said deputies have been called to the house 12 times since 2011, including a call about a suspicious person on June 20, 2011, and a suspicious vehicle last January 2. None of those calls turned into anything significant, she said.
No charges have been filed against Maddox. A man at the home wouldn't open the door when a reporter knocked and declined comment.
Neighbor Jonathan Aristizabal, 18, said he has lived in the middle-class community for six months and hasn't noticed anything that would make him think the area is unsafe. He said he often saw the kids playing in the front yard.
"It's a big tragedy," he said. "They're a really good family."