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Shooter had right to protect his home, family of badly wounded Buffalo boy says

The family of the boy shot in the face by a homeowner on Buffalo's East Side isn't calling for charges against the shooter.

The boy – who is celebrating his 13th birthday today – lost his right eye, has shotgun pellets embedded in his brain and has a collapsed lung after he was hit by a shotgun blast in the face and chest outside a home on Quincy Street just before noon Friday.

Family members haven't been able to hear the boy's side of the story yet, since he's heavily sedated and lying in Oishei Children's Hospital hooked up to a feeding tube and a machine that's breathing for him. But they admit he was doing something he shouldn't have been doing when he was shot.

The boy's family isn't sure whether the boy and his friend intended to burglarize 61-year-old Edward Bald's home, or whether they were vandalizing it, said Tearra Perry, the boy's aunt.

But either way, they were doing something to the man's property, she said.

"Everyone's a victim here," she said. "This man had a right to protect his property and his home."

Bald said a rock was thrown through a first-floor bedroom window of his home and that he then fired his 20-gauge shotgun out the window.

Bald told The Buffalo News on Friday he "sent a warning shot out the hole they already put in the window." He said he didn't know anyone had been hit until he saw blood in his backyard.

The boy, whose name was withheld by police, crawled from the scene and left a trail of blood that ended three houses away, where a friend found him and called for help, the boy's aunt said. He stayed home sick from school the day before and told his mother he was again sick on Friday, his aunt said.

He was taken to Erie County Medical Center and was transferred to Children's Hospital late Friday night. The boy has undergone more than 10 hours of surgery, but further procedures are on hold because of potential complications and risks. One of the pellets is lodged in his carotid artery. He has a blood clot, his esophagus was damaged, and he has a swelling on the brain, Perry said.

"It splattered through his face and lungs," she said of the gunshot.

Buffalo police did not provide details about the boy's injuries except to say they were non-life-threatening.

Bald told The News he called police to report the shooting and what he described as an attempted break-in.

Police interviewed Bald at the scene but did not arrest him. State law allows a person to use deadly force to defend their home only under limited circumstances. Those include when a person reasonably believes such action is necessary to stop or prevent a burglary or attempted burglary.

The use of physical force, but not deadly force, is allowed in defending a person's own home when the crime involved is larceny or criminal mischief – like the breaking of a window.

Buffalo police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge declined to say Monday if anyone — Bald or the injured boy — would be charged. The matter remains under investigation, authorities said.

The boy's family doesn't want to focus on the legality of the shooting at this point, but they are asking for prayers from the community, Perry said. She said the family is praying for any heartaches caused by wrongdoing of their boy and apologize for his actions.

Perry also said the family is praying that Bald can forgive her nephew, who is expected to spend at least the next month in the hospital.

"We just want prayers," she said. "We believe that there's power in prayer."

Buffalo police have interviewed another youth who may have been involved, Perry said.

Bald has been a crime victim in the past, according to Buffalo police reports.

Bald reported to police in July 2015 that someone opened a bathroom window at his home after cutting a screen and popping it out of the jamb, according to a police report. Bald also reported in December 2004 someone tried breaking into his home by breaking a window, according to another police report.

There have been three homicides this year within three blocks of Bald's home on Quincy. A 43-year-old man was fatally shot Feb. 19 at Ashley and Krupp streets; the body of a 23-year-old man was found fatally shot May 20 at Quincy and Ashley streets; and a 22-year-old man was killed July 18 on Deshler Street.

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