DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The parents of an 8-year-old Dallas boy shot in the face Tuesday night say he is improving, even though he still needs a breathing tube and remains listed in critical but stable condition. Donald Maiden, Jr., called DJ by family and friends, was shot while playing at this Lake Highlands apartment complex. On Thursday, his parents spoke exclusively to CBS 11 News.READ MORE: I-Team: Bank Of America And Zelle Customers Targeted In New High-Tech Scam
“When he ran in I just screamed,” said Latamarin Locklin, DJ’s mother, recalling how the boy looked as he ran home after the shooting. “His mouth was just hanging off and it was just a big hole,” she said. Locklin remembers a neighbor urging her to put pressure on her son’s mouth. “ I just threw him on the couch and laid him in my arms and put pressure on his mouth with the towel.”
“When I first saw him in ICU I started crying,” Donald Maiden, Sr. said of his son. DJ’s father was working in Louisiana. The boy was in a medically-induced coma when Dad first saw him. “I just put my head down in his bed and was holding his hand at the same time. And he opened his eyes. And when I raised back up I looked and there were tears rolling down his eyes and it gave me a little bit of spirit in my heart. It was joy, I guess he was kind of happy to know I was there. “
DJ was shot “out of the blue,” according to his mom, by a man driving a pickup truck who’d been hanging around her apartment complex.
Police arrested Brian Cloninger and are holding him on a $2.2 million dollar bond. Locklin says investigators are very helpful, but there’s still one huge unanswered question. “I just want to know why. Why?”READ MORE: Technology Helping Melissa ISD Retain School Bus Drivers During Nationwide Shortage
DJ’s father admitted being confused about the motive as well. “I don’t know what was the reason or what was the cause of his actions, but you know, I just pray for him. And I just ask everybody to pray for DJ.”
According to his parents, DJ has a plate in his jaw. He can’t smile, but he can wink and nod his head in code when he wants something. He faces many more surgeries after the swelling from his latest surgery goes down. “Everything’s just too much,” Locklin tells CBS 11 News. “I just want him to get better and recover. And law enforcement can deal with everything else.”
DJ just had a big birthday party on Sunday; his parents say there will be an even bigger one when he finally comes home.
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