CRIME

Md. toddler in his mother's arms shot by stray bullet

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Police are searching for an 18-year-old they consider a person of interest in a Saturday night shooting that wounded a 2-year-old child.

Deven Angel Matos, 18, a "person of interest." (Photo: Prince George's County Police)

A toddler in his mother's arms was shot in the face by a stray bullet from a gunfight Saturday night outside an apartment complex in Glenarden, Md., police say.

On Sunday night, authorities announced they were searching for 18-year-old Deven Angel Matos.

“Our detectives have been out looking for him, trying to get information on what may have happened that night, just piecing together different parts of this case,” Cpl. Evan Baxter of the Prince George’s county police said.

According to sources, witnesses have named Matos as one of those involved in the street shooting. Matos has not yet been found.

In the boxing ring, Matos was known as a promising junior with quick hands. An acquaintance told said he'd recently stopped boxing.

“We need to talk to him cause we need to find out what he may know about what happened that night,” Baxter said.

Police say the boy was hit shortly after 9 p.m. when two armed suspects began to shoot at each other in the apartment complex. A stray bullet from that gunfight struck the toddler who was “a good distance away,” in front of the apartments, police say.

Parents and children outside ran from the gunshots.

"Somebody was shooting off some rounds, some gunshots", recalled Lorraine Montgomery, a grandmother visiting her family.

His mother was holding him when the bullet hit him, said Prince George's County Police spokesperson Julie Parker. She said the boy will turn two years old next month.

Residents say they heard as many as 15 shots. They initially thought the gunfire came from someone shooting off a gun in midair.

Reverend Antonio Smith was among the parents scrambling to get their children to cover.

"I don't think it was intentional. It was just somebody playing with a gun, probably just shooting. Normally they fire up in the air", he says.

But Prince George's County Police believe the bullets came from an armed confrontation between two men.

"One stray bullet from that gunfight ended up striking our victim", says Corporal Evan Baxter.

"This is a senseless act of violence that has nearly cost an innocent child his life," said Chief of Police Mark A. Magaw, "and we are devoting extensive resources to finding the people involved."

Residents say drug dealing and gunplay are a growing problem in the neighborhood along the 3000 Block of Brightseat Road.

But the notion that a toddler, not yet two years old, was wounded by gunfire outrages many.

"The person that did the shooting has no regard for life," says Montgomery. "To know that all these people and children are out here, to go on and shoot... I think it's crazy.”

“I’m scared for my life, it’s terrible that a baby had to get shot, it’s sad,” said neighbor Kahlilah Richardson.

Police say the toddler was undergoing surgery Sunday night and is is critical but stable condition.

From Prince George's County Police: Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Prince George's County Police Department's District III Investigative Section at (301) 772-4910. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411 TIPS (8477) or text "PGPD plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

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