Tampa, Florida -- A 7-year-old boy was in surgery Tuesday afternoon after his grandmother shot him thinking he was an intruder early this morning.
Investigators are closely following Tyler Maddox's condition to determine if his 63-year-old grandma, Linda Maddox, could face charges.
The shooting happened at the family's home on Alta Monte Drive in Tampa around 1 a.m. Tuesday. The house is located southwest of Hillsborough Avenue and the Veterans Expressway in Town 'N Country.
The family's pastor tells 10 News that Tyler is fighting for his life right now. He had to have an extensive surgery that took more than four hours. His family insists he's tough, and they're praying he'll survive the shooting.
"We don't know what was going through her mind. Sometimes you can be weak, in a weak moment and make a bad decision," says neighbor Jason Martizez.
The neighbor and father of four is trying to understand why Linda Maddox would grab her revolver in the middle of the night, mistaking her grandson for an intruder at her bedroom door, when she knew the 7-year-old twin boys were home with her.
"I don't have a gun. If I had a gun, it would be a last resort type of thing. I definitely wouldn't shoot, unless I felt it was a last resort," says Martinez.
Maddox told investigators that she watched the boys once a week while their father worked the nightshift. She'd always prop a chair under her bedroom door to feel safer. When she heard it sliding across her wood floor Tuesday morning, she told deputies, she fired once at the door. She realized what happened when she heard her grandson's screams on the other side.
"It's an unfortunate thing. I feel sorry for her, as well as the family, and most of all the little boy. It's horrible," says neighbor Laura Nunez.
10 News uncovered that deputies have been called to the home more than a dozen times in the past five years for domestic issues, theft, and the most serious: records show a relative was arrested for child abuse for hitting and bruising a boy.
"It's really awful. I'm a grandmother. I've got three grandchildren. I can't imagine how you would feel to actually hurt someone you love so much," says Nunez. "Whoever has a gun has got to have training and really be aware of what they're doing."
Tyler's now struggling to survive on a day he should have spent at his first day of school. The Hillsborough County School District says crisis counselors have been helping staff and students cope with the shooting.
The family's church and neighbors are trying to support the family.
"We're going to pray for Tyler, and were going to pray for his family," says Martinez.
Investigators say once they finally calmed down the hysterical grandmother, they questioned her at the home, but have not arrested her.
The sheriff's office says this appears to be a horrible accident, but they're waiting to make sure Tyler pulls through before making any decisions about charges and closing the case.