Even though the BB gun pellet was lodged in his chest, Lazaro Betancourt III did not realize he had been shot until hours later, when he started to develop a slight pain in his throat.
The Brockton 11-year-old and a friend had been playing basketball Sunday evening when Betancourt was shot. He continued to play, not noticing the little spot of blood seeping through his shirt.
“We got back from the park, and he went upstairs to play with his friend,” said Virginia Andrade, Betancourt’s mother. “He came downstairs and said his throat was hurting, and he kept scratching his chest. I saw the blood and pulled up his shirt and just saw the hole there.”
Andrade and her son both began crying, and rushed to the hospital, where doctors X-rayed Betancourt, Andrade said. The boy was kept overnight at Massachusetts General Hospital so doctors could keep an eye on him.
Andrade said her son is recovering even though the pellet is still in his chest.
“It’s not doing any damage, so they’re afraid if they go digging after it, it might do more damage,” Andrade said.
Betancourt went to school Tuesday and is handling the injury bravely and without resentment, his mother said.
Paul Bonanca, a spokesman for the Brockton Police Department, said detectives are investigating. The city has had problems with people damaging property with BB guns in the past, but never a case in which a person was injured, he said.
The family has no idea who shot Betancourt — they did not see anybody with a BB gun in the park — and doctors told them the angle of the wound indicates the shot came from above, as though somebody in a nearby building or tree were aiming at a squirrel.
“He doesn’t want to press charges,” Andrade said. “He just hopes that whoever did it comes forward and gives up the BB gun and says sorry.”Todd Feathers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ToddFeathers.