TAMPA, Fla. -- The 7-year-old boy shot Tuesday by his grandmother after she thought he was an intruder is improving, but is still in isolation at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, according to the family's pastor.
People who know the boy's grandmother, Linda Maddox, 63, say she would never intentionally hurt her grandson, Tyler Maddox.
"Linda has always displayed great love for her grandchildren," says Dr. Jennifer Meningall, the family's pastor at Bible-Based Fellowship Church of Temple Terrace.
Maddox opened her home to her son, Reggie, and twin grandsons who live with her.
Dr. Meningall says they are relying on their faith to get through this tough time. She prays Tyler will survive being shot by his grandmother with the strength and support of his family.
"He has to know the love of his family, because they extended it and they displayed it," she says.
The family's senior pastor, Rev. Earl Mason says that Tyler's family can't be in the room with him, but they are as close as they can be. They large family is devoted, just as they are at the church.
"They are involved. They are front-and-center. They are positive. They are family-oriented, so it's just a real tragedy," says Dr. Meningall.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says Tyler and his twin brother had been sleeping in their grandmother's bed with her, while their dad worked overnight at the postal service.
Investigators haven't been able to interview Tyler because of his condition, but believe he may have gotten up to see if his father was home. They believe the grandmother was startled when Tyler slid a chair she had propped against the door of the bedroom, and she thought the boy was an intruder and shot him. He then underwent four hours of surgery.
The shooting happened around 1 a.m. Tuesday at the family's home on Alta Monte Drive in Town 'N Country.
"To live with something - with an accident like that - it's just a tremendous issue, she will have to figure out," says Meningall. "It was just heartbreaking, and of course we began to immediately pray for her strength and his healing."
On his dad's Facebook page Wednesday, Reggie wrote: "My boys often say, daddy when you get home from work will you hold me? So you know as soon as I get off I crawl in bed and have 2 arms full of love! Praying for a speedy recovery for Tyler so I can come home and hold him!"
The sheriff's office believes the shooting is an accident.