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8-Year Old Recovering After Being Shot In Face

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Dallas Police have arrested a 46-year-old Dallas man in the shooting of an 8-year-old boy Tuesday night at an apartment complex.

Donald "D.J" Maiden, Jr. is in critical but stable condition at Children's Medical Center in Dallas.

According to reports, D.J. was outside playing in the parking lot at the La Bella Palms Apartments just before dark. He took a gunshot full in the face; but managed to run for help.

Neighbor John Fuller was astounded at that.  "He was holding, all his jaw was just hanging, like, and all his little friends was over there crying and stuff."

Fuller and his friends were dumbstruck when the third-grader ran past them, rushing home to his mother.  "I heard a loud bang. And then five seconds later a little kid, little DJ, he ran around the corner holding his jaw with a mouthful of blood," said Justin Yancey, who dialed 911.  "He was talking, like, you could barely understand him."

Miata Bevele sometimes babysits for D-J. She says it was chaos when he reached home.

"His mom was telling me, 'My son got shot, do you know who shot my son?' and all that. And we were all sitting in the house crying and breaking down. And his mom was trying to get the blood to stop but it wouldn't stop."

Brian Cloninger
Brian Cloninger (credit: Dallas Police Department)

Fuller was there, too. "Whole bunch of screaming and stuff. They were mad, talking about "Who shot my baby?" and all that. Mama was upset; she was breaking down and crying," he told CBS 11 News.

Police identify the gunman as 46-year-old Brian Cloninger of Dallas.

He apparently doesn't live at the apartment complex but Fuller saw his truck parked there early in the afternoon.

Cloninger was arrested for injury to a child and is being held on a $2.2-million bond.

None of this answers the family's question of "why?" said Sharon Locklin is D.J.'s grandmother. "I just don't know why this would happen. I've never experienced anything like this.  And I don't understand why someone would target an innocent child like this," she said.   She went on to describe her grandson's injuries.  "He lost from here to here on his face; and they've got his mouth wired shut, and he has metal plates and he has lots of reconstructive surgery.   But by the grace of God he's going to be okay."

CBS 11 News spoke to a woman who identified herself as Brian Cloninger's wife.  She says she has no idea what happened as has no details.  But she says the real tragedy is that a little boy was hurt.

D-J's mother told CBS 11 News late Wednesday she is feeling better about her son's prognosis, but she is still devastated by the shooting.  Cloninger turned down our requests for an interview.   D.J.'s grandmother tells us the boy is in a medically-induced coma and that his jaw is wired shut, but he's a feisty kid and the family feels he will be okay.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. )

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