Woman shoots 7-year-old grandson she mistook for an intruder

Published Aug. 20, 2014

TAMPA — Lying in bed early Tuesday morning, Linda Maddox heard a noise.

She felt unsafe when her son, Reginald, would work nights, authorities said. So before she went to sleep, she propped a chair against the bedroom door and kept a gun at the ready.

When she heard the chair scraping against the wood floor, authorities say, she thought it was an intruder.

Maddox, 63, grabbed the .22-caliber pistol she kept near the bed. She pointed it toward the door and, in the darkness, fired a shot. The next thing she heard was the scream of her 7-year-old grandson.

When the lights came on, Tyler Maddox lay near the door, his torso pierced by a single bullet. Rescue personnel took the critically injured boy to St. Joseph's Hospital early Tuesday, the victim of what authorities labeled an accident.

Tyler was sleeping with his twin brother, Tyrique, in his grandmother's room in the modest five-bedroom house at 6505 Alta Monte Drive, according to Hillsborough County sheriff's officials. About 1 a.m., he got up and tried to leave the room.

Deputies investigated the incident and concluded that Linda Maddox mistook her grandson for a burglar. She is not likely to face charges, officials said.

Tyler Maddox emerged from surgery and remained in critical but stable condition late Tuesday morning, the Sheriff's Office said.

He and his brother live at the home with their father, Reginald Maddox, 46, a postal worker, records indicate.

Neither Reginald nor Linda Maddox have had run-ins with the law, according to state records.

Sheriff's deputies have been called to the house at least eight times since 2011, including a call about a suspicious person, a suspicious vehicle and an identity theft case in which Linda Maddox was the victim. But none of those visits appear to have resulted in anything significant, a sheriff's spokeswoman said.

Several neighbors who live near the home on Alta Monte Drive described the block as quiet. Sylvia Hehemann, who has lived there for 43 years, said residents are friendly and she feels safe walking around her neighborhood.

"It's a tragedy," she said. "I don't know of any problems we've had in the neighborhood."

But David Swain, 47, who lives on the opposite side of the street from Linda Maddox, said he has seen more thefts in recent years.

Two solar lights were stolen from his front yard and later a brick was thrown through his window, prompting him to install security cameras. He was the victim of a burglary about three years ago by someone who removed the back window, he said.

"You used to be able to leave the front door open and go to sleep," said Swain, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office child protection investigators once "had contact" with a household member at the home's address in 2011, but said the case did not involve the boy or his grandmother.

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Linda Maddox has owned the home since 1986, property records show. In 2013, she helped run a business known as J's House for Girls, which operated partly out of the home. The business was described in state corporate filings as a group home for teen girls preparing to leave the foster care system.

A man who answered the door at the home Tuesday declined to comment. Shortly after, he walked outside with a woman and at least one child, got into a four-door Volkswagen and drove away.

Times news researcher John Martin and staff writer Keeley Sheehan contributed to this report, which also included information from the Associated Press. Contact Dan Sullivan at or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.