Eight-year-old recovering after Dallas apartment shooting

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by MARIE SAAVEDRA

Bio | Email | Follow: @MSaavedraTV

WFAA

Posted on September 4, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 4 at 6:54 PM

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DALLAS — In a photo, D.J. Maiden looks like any eight-year-old catching a nap with his Batman blanket.

That is, until you realize that he's in a hospital bed, connected to tubes.

His jaw is bandaged after undergoing surgery.

Neighbors say he was shot by a stranger while playing at his Northeast Dallas apartment complex on Tuesday evening.

"They have reconstructed his jawbone with a plate and put a wire mesh in," said George Locklin, D.J.'s grandfather. He said it's tough to see D.J. in pain; his injuries are serious.

"They say he's going to recover. He's going to need a few more surgeries," Locklin said.

While family focuses on caring for D.J., his neighbors at the La Bella Palms apartments at 9450 Royal Lane are reeling.

Dallas police say the suspect is 46-year-old Brian Cloninger, a stranger to the families living here, including D.J.'s.

Neighbors said they first saw Cloninger on Tuesday parked in their lot, and he sat there for hours before pulling out a gun, waving it around, and firing shots.

Even after a bullet from his gun allegedly struck D.J., neighbor Greg Taplin said Cloninger seemed to be in a daze.

"I said, 'Did you shoot that little boy?' He said, 'Yeah.' Just like that," Taplin recalled. "I said, 'Why?' He said... well... he just started mumbling."

D.J. wasn't the only child playing outside on Tuesday evening. T.J. Liesmann could also have been a victim. He stayed home from school on Wednesday, sick from what he saw.

"The man they showed on TV... that's the man that shot my friend," said the sixth grader.

Dallas police haven't yet revealed if Cloninger had a motive, but D.J.'s grandfather says knowing "why" wouldn't help.

"I can't believe it at all, but I'll have to deal with it," he said.

Cloninger was in the Dallas County Jail. Bond was set at $2.2 million on charges of injury to a child.

D.J. Maiden will likely be in the hospital for two more weeks recovering from his wounds.

E-mail msaavedra@wfaa.com

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