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Police: West Florida boy critically wounded by celebratory gunfire

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:23 AM EST, Mon January 2, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The wounded boy's father says "hell broke loose," with blood everywhere
  • NEW: The child's father says his son "won't give up," calling him "a man in the making"
  • The 12-year-old boy was watching fireworks when he was hit, a sheriff's office says
  • A bullet -- possibly fired from miles away -- went through the top of his head

(CNN) -- A west Florida boy is in critical condition after a bullet apparently fired skyward during a New Year's celebration went into his head, authorities said Sunday.

The 12-year-old boy, Diego Duran, was sitting in the front yard of his Ruskin, Florida, home watching fireworks around 1 a.m. Sunday when he fell to the ground, bleeding from the nose and eyes, Larry McKinnon of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said Sunday in a statement.

"He just dropped," the boy's father, also named Diego Duran, told CNN affiliate Bay News 9. "All of a sudden, hell broke loose. (There was) blood all over the place."

The victim's mother drove him to South Bay Hospital in Sun City Center, where doctors determined that a gunshot had gone through the top of the boy's head. The child was then transported to Tampa General Hospital, where he was in critical condition Sunday afternoon with the bullet still lodged in his head, McKinnon said.

No one in the immediate area around the victim's house was firing a gun, the boy's relatives and neighbors told detectives. Police believe that celebratory gunfire, possibly shot from miles away, wounded the boy.

Crackdown on New Year's gunfire

The child's father said that his son wouldn't give up, calling him "a man in the making."

"He's one of the best (people) somebody is ever going to meet," said the elder Diego Duran. "Somebody just put a stop on him ... He's going to grow up to be a better man than I am."

If the wound is determined to be from a celebratory gunshot, it would not be the first time that a child was inadvertently shot in the Southeast on New Year's Eve and in the hours after midnight. In 2009, 4-year-old Marquel Peters died after a bullet went through the roof a suburban Atlanta church and hit him.

The boy's mother, Nathalee Peters, has since launched an online effort -- called Marquel's Pledge -- to urge people not to shoot into the air in celebration. It's one of several such campaigns nationwide, including one in Miami called "One bullet kills the party."

CNN's George Howell contributed to this report.

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