Authorities in Utah are investigating how a 2-year-old child at a day care was struck in the head by an apparent stray bullet Monday.
The incident occurred at a day care in Spanish Fork, about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Detectives learned that children were playing in a vinyl fenced area which was staffed by two adults. That’s when a child appeared to stumble and was seen bleeding from the face, police said.
“The daycare notified the parents of the 2 year old child who responded and took their child to the hospital for treatment. It was not until at the hospital that doctors discovered through scans that the child had a small caliber bullet lodged in its head,” police said.
The child, who was transferred to Primary Children’s Hospital, was stable, police said.
The incident, police said, appeared to be a “tragic accident.”
“Open fields are directly west of the daycare and it is believed the round may have come from that area,” police said.
Police were not immediately reached for comment Wednesday. NBC News affiliate KSL of Salt Lake City reported the incident occurred at the Leap Ahead Daycare and the child wounded is a boy.
Lane Mugleston, who owns the day care, told the news outlet he was shocked by the apparent errant shooting: “We are absolutely surprised. We are dumbfounded that this would happen in Spanish Fork.”
The day care told NBC News in a statement Wednesday it is “absolutely heartbroken” for the boy who was injured and his family.
“Safety for the children and staff in our care has always been our number one priority. We are praying for him and his family, and we are hopeful for a full recovery. We are also praying for the shooter and his family. I am sure he had absolutely no idea that his bullet would travel as far as it did.”
On Wednesday, detectives said they had identified a man who was shooting birds with a .22-caliber air rifle in the open fields that are west of the day care. That man is cooperating, police said, as their investigation continues and the case will be sent to the Spanish Fork city prosecutor’s office for review of any charges.
The man who was shooting at birds will not be named unless charges are filed, police said.
Doctors treating the boy have decided to leave the bullet in the boy’s head for fear of causing further damage if the boy undergoes surgery to remove it, KSL reported.
The boy is expected to make a full recovery, Mugleston told the news outlet.
Antonio Planas is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.