8-year-old boy shoots 5-year-old friend near Montana dog park

A 5-year-old boy was in stable condition Friday after authorities said he was shot in the abdomen by an 8-year-old boy he had been playing with near a Billings dog park.

The younger boy, who was not identified, was being treated at St. Vincent Healthcare's pediatric intensive care unit, Billings police said.

The boys had been playing together Thursday, then got permission from their parents to go to the undeveloped area northwest of High Sierra dog park, police Sgt. Matt Brewer said.

The 5-year-old boy was found by two girls, ages 12 and 13, who were riding their bikes through the area. The girls found the boy lying in a dirt path hidden by hills. He was covered in blood and going in and out of consciousness, one of the girls said.

The 12-year-old girl ran for help, while the other girl stayed with the boy. John Crawford, who was running his dog in the area, came across the wounded boy and 13-year-old girl moments later and called police.

"I just saw a boy who was covered in blood and moaning, and a girl who looked up at me bawling," Crawford told the Billings Gazette. "I didn't know what to think. I just tried to keep the boy calm."

Brewer said it appeared that the boy had been shot at least 15 minutes before the girls found him. He was taken to St. Vincent Healthcare and underwent surgery.

The circumstances leading up to the shooting were not immediately clear.

Authorities found the 8-year-old boy at his home Thursday night. He was taken to the police department with a parent to be interviewed.

A small-caliber gun and ammunition were found at the scene, Brewer said. It is unclear where the gun came from, he said.

Brewer said he doesn't believe anyone would have heard the gunshot because that type of gun does not fire loudly.