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Phoenix • A 14-year-old boy shot and nearly killed an intruder who broke into his Phoenix home and pulled a gun on him while he was watching his three younger siblings, police said Saturday.
The teen and his siblings, ages 8, 10 and 12, were at home alone when a woman rang the doorbell Friday afternoon, Phoenix police Officer James Holmes said.
The teen didn't open the door because he didn't recognize the woman.
Soon after, the teen heard a loud bang on the door, rushed his siblings upstairs and got a handgun from his parent's bedroom.
When he got to the top of the stairs, he saw a man break through the front door and point a gun at him.
The boy shot the 37-year-old man, who was taken to a hospital in extremely critical condition and underwent surgery. The man was upgraded to critical condition and is expected to survive and be booked into jail within the week on counts of aggravated assault and burglary, Holmes said.
He said the suspect did not get a shot off. He declined to release his name until he is booked into jail.
The woman who rang the home's doorbell got away.
Holmes hailed the teen's actions and his parents for teaching the kids to never open the door to strangers.
"The police and indeed our community does not ever want to see a situation where a teenager of that age has to take a weapon to protect his family ... but this young man did exactly what he should have done," he said. "I'm not sure he gave full thought about what he had to do. He just acted."
Holmes said that the gun the teen grabbed was his father's, but did not know whether the boy had been trained to use it.
He said the family, whose names were not released, is declining to speak to reporters about the ordeal, saying that they "are all pretty traumatized."
"The dad was pretty much out of his mind with distress, officers couldn't even talk to him," Holmes said. "It's going to take them a while to recover mentally."
He said police don't yet know what the suspect's intentions were and that will be one of the first questions they ask him when he is well enough to talk.
"This was mid-block in a neighborhood, at 4:30 in the afternoon in summertime and children are there," he said. "They just took a heck of a gamble for this particular house, and we've got to try to figure out why."
Holmes added that the family is lucky that the teen acted so swiftly and effectively.
"As ugly as this is, and as much as this family is going through, we don't have injured children on our hands," he said.