A two-month old boy who was shot in the neck last night inside a north Minneapolis home is in critical but stable condition at Hennepin County Medical Center.
The infant was in his father's arms when the baby's teenage uncle accidentally fired the shot before fleeing the scene, Minneapolis police said. The teen hasn't returned to the house.
Investigators don't believe the teenager intentionally shot the baby, said Catherine Johnson, commander of the police department's violent crimes investigation division. However, she said it's important that he turn himself in to police.
"We sincerely hope that he comes forward to tell his side of the story," Johnson said. "We have reached out to his family and to members of the Minneapolis faith community for their help in locating him."
Johnson wouldn't say what kind of firearm was used, where the teenager obtained it, or if there were other children in the home at the time of the accident. She said the baby's father initially lied to police about the shooting and said that the baby was struck by a stray bullet outside the home.
Johnson wouldn't say whether the man is facing charges, and when asked if he had a criminal record, was blunt.
"Whether he does or doesn't, frankly at this point, isn't relevant to the investigation," she said. "From our perspective, he's a father concerned for the well-being of his son right now -- regardless of what his history might be."
Johnson also wouldn't speculate on charges facing the teenager.
For many in Minneapolis, the shooting is a disturbing reminder of the dangers present in the neighborhood, where even in their homes, children are not always safe.
On Friday, Minneapolis City Council member and mayoral candidate Don Samuels set up some folding chairs and a table outside the house where the shooting took place. The house on Emerson Ave. North is inside the ward Samuels represents.
Samuels, who has held similar vigils after past shootings in his ward, said there are too many people in the city, particularly in north Minneapolis, who live in anger and despair. He said adding a gun to that mix is lethal.
Often, Samuels said, young boys think they need guns to protect themselves from other boys. If the teen police say likely shot his cousin had been playing with a knife instead of a gun, chances are the situation would be a lot different.
"A knife might fall and stick in your toe," Samuels said. "But it's not going to just accidentally go off."
Standing next to Samuels were husband and wife pastors Diane and Rufus Thibodeaux, whose church runs a 24-hour daycare center a block from where the shooting occurred.
Diane Thibodeaux said many of the families who use the center are under stress brought on by joblessness and other economic woes. She said those situations can cause conflict.
"When the fighting and the arguing and the disputes go on in the home, someone little is going to be the one who absorbs all that," Thibodeaux said, "whether it's verbal or physical."
Thursday night's shooting is the latest incident in which children have either been hurt or put in harm's way by gun fire. Last month, a 14-month old baby was among three people hit by gunshots. All three survived.
There have also been several recent incidents, according to court documents, where police allege that young children were near gunfire but not struck.