A 7-year-old boy was hospitalized Tuesday night after he was hit by a stray bullet in Winton, the Merced County Sheriff's Department reported.
The child is expected to make a full recovery from his injuries. The boy was playing outside of his home with other children on the 7000 block of Center Street about 11:16 p.m. Tuesday when he was shot, Deputy Delray Shelton said.
A man was walking in the area of Center Street and Walnut Avenue, Shelton said, when a dark-colored Honda carrying four men pulled up next to him. The two parties began to argue.
Shelton said the man, who was walking, pulled a gun and fired at the car.
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The 7-year-old and other children in the area tried to run away from the scene, Shelton said, but the boy was struck in his lower abdomen by a bullet. Deputies didn't say how many shots were fired.
The boy was flown to a Bay Area hospital, Shelton said, underwent surgery, and is expected to recover.
Shelton said such injuries to a child are particularly disturbing for law enforcement.
"It's unfortunate and it's plain despicable," Shelton said. No arrests have been made.
Shelton said deputies have not determined if the shooting was gang-related. He said he did not know why the child was outside at that hour.
The victim's mother declined requests for an interview.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at (209) 385-7445. Information can be given anonymously.
Reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.