LOS ANGELES (AP) — A sleeping 8-year-old boy shot in the head when a stranger opened fire in his house was listed in critical but stable condition on Monday as police asked for the public's help in finding the gunman.
Detectives also were seeking a motive for the late Sunday night attack that sprayed bullets through a wall into the bedroom of the Del Rey neighborhood near Venice Beach.
"According to the family, they did not recognize the suspect" and there was nothing in the house that indicated drugs or other illegal activity, Capt. Nicole Alberca said.
Police said the boy had just been put to bed at about 11:55 p.m. when the father heard the unlocked security door and front door open, Sgt. Frank Preciado said.
The father had been expecting his 20-year-old son to return but when he walked around a partial wall into the living room he saw a stranger in a gray hooded sweatshirt, Preciado said.
After words were exchanged the man pulled a gun and fire around 10 shots, none of which hit the father who was only about 5 feet away, Preciado said.
The father then ran into the boy's bedroom and tried to shield him, while the gunman was following and shooting at the dad, Preciado said.
"He was saying, 'I've got children in my room,'" Preciado said.
Bullets plowed through the wall and the bedroom door although it was unclear which struck the boy. The lath and plaster of the wall may have slowed the bullets, Preciado added.
The boy was taken to a hospital where he underwent surgery for a head wound and was listed in critical but stable condition, police said.
No other family members were injured. The young victim's mother and 17-year-old brother also were in the bedroom at the time of the shooting and the boy's grandmother was in another room, Preciado said.
Shootings are rare in the residential neighborhood, police said.
Police withheld the names of the family members but released a photo of the boy, who is shown smiling with long, wavy, golden-brown hair down to his shoulders.
Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed to this report.