TAMPA — Linda Maddox, the 63-year-old woman who mistook her young grandson for an intruder and shot him early Tuesday, probably will not face charges, according to Hillsborough County sheriff's officials.
Tyler Maddox, 7, was sleeping in his grandmother's room, next to his twin brother, Tyrique, when he got out of bed about 1 a.m. Tuesday and tried to move a chair that his grandmother had propped against the door for security. Hearing the chair scraping against the wood floor, Linda Maddox assumed that a burglar was trying to break into her Town 'N Country house. She grabbed her .22-caliber pistol from next to the bed and fired into the dark, authorities said.
Tyler suffered a gunshot wound to his upper body and was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he underwent surgery. He remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition Wednesday.
Though an investigation is ongoing, law enforcement authorities have labeled the shooting an accident. Interviewed by sheriff's officials, Maddox said she was on high alert that night because her son was working late and she was home alone with her grandsons, a situation that made her nervous.
"She thought there was an intruder. She had no way of knowing the intruder was only her grandson, so I think the decision not to press charges is justified," said Tampa criminal defense lawyer Bryant Camareno, who is not connected to the case. "The fact that she just fired into the darkness, that in and of itself is not a crime."
There was also no crime in leaving a loaded firearm within reach of her grandchildren. In Florida, adults can be charged with culpable negligence for storing a loaded gun near children only if a minor actually gets hold of the firearm and uses it to hurt himself or others.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Children and Families said Wednesday that both boys remain in the custody of their father, Reginald Maddox, who was at work when the shooting happened. Records show he works for the postal service.
No one answered the door to speak to a reporter Wednesday evening at the Town 'N Country home.
Crisis counselors were on hand for the first day of classes Tuesday at the Hillsborough County charter school where Tyler is a student.
School district officials declined to say which school the boy attends but said the counselors were made available to students and staff in the aftermath of the shooting.
Times staff writers Anna M. Phillips and Keeley Sheehan contributed to this report. Contact Dan Sullivan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.