9-year-old hospitalized after shooting

A 9-year-old boy was rushed to the hospital after being shot in the face, apparently by his own brother.

Deputies say three brothers -- ages 13, 11, and 9 -- were alone inside a home on Turkey Tree Lane this afternoon.

“We heard the shooting this morning but we didn't know where it was coming from," says a neighbor who didn't want to be identified.

She now believes those were the same rounds that would later strike a 9-year-old in the mouth.

"Boys are boys but I'd never have thought they'd done that," she said.

A .45-caliber handgun was locked with a padlock in their mother's bedroom while she was at work.  

"The boys were apparently able to take the hinges off the door got the gun went outside and were target practicing," said HCSO spokesperson Larry McKinnon.

Afterward, they put the gun back, but deputies say the 11- and 9-year-old went to mess with it again.  The older boy picked it up and somehow it went off, hitting the 9-year-old in the face.

"The middle one and little that got shot came running down here, you could tell the little one had a cloth to his face it was bloody," said the boy's neighbor.  "When I looked at his face I could tell he was shot the way the bullet went through."

Investigators say the gun belonged to the mother’s boyfriend. No charges have been filed at this point.

"We're going to have to determine if this was just an unfortunate accident or if there's any criminal liability here," McKinnon added.

The boy was taken to the hospital.  Deputies say despite his injuries he'll survive and recover.