THE parents of a five-year-old boy shot in the face with an airgun bullet have told how he could have been KILLED or blinded in the horror attack.
Little Harry Brakes, five, was struck in the right cheek as he played in the garden at his aunt's home and will now be scarred for life.
The youngster was rushed to hospital and had to undergo surgery to have the metal bullet, which was about half a centimetre in size, removed.
His horrified parents have again urged cops to catch the mystery culprit after they took the bullet and secured it as evidence.
As the brave youngster recovers from his terrifying ordeal, his dad Martyn Brakes, 37, exclusively told The Sun Online: "He's very lucky because it could have been a lot worse. But is still shouldn't have happened.
“Whoever did this needs to be caught and punished. You can't go around randomly shooting kids in the face. It needs to be a warning."
Harry was struck by an unknown shooter as he was playing with his elder sister Sienna, nine, and two cousins at his aunt’s home on the outskirts of Leicester, on Wednesday afternoon last week.
Car paint sprayer Martyn continued: “Harry was hit bang in the middle of the cheek. If it was a bit lower it could have gone through his neck and killed him and a bit higher it could have taken his eye out.”
“I’m angry that police don't appear to be doing enough to catch the person.
“My son’s going to be scarred for life now, he’s in a lot of pain and he’s too scared to go out outside to play.
“If anyone’s firing airguns it should be done in the confines of a gun club, not a backyard. It’s much too dangerous," the disgusted dad said.
“The bullet that hit Harry looks like a small metal dart and we don't know if it was a direct hit or it was a richochet.”
Martyn and his care worker wife Lucy, 40, of Leicester Forest East, believe the pellet flew through one of the gaping knot-holes in the fence from a neighbouring garden.
Lucy told how her son was playing at her sister Katie’s nearby home when the accident happened.
She explained: “Katie was upstairs hoovering and the kids were playing in the back garden. She heard them in hysterics and came down to find Harry crying with a hole in his cheek.
“She called me at work and said he had been shot in the face and I was having a panic attack. It was an awful thing to happen. I couldn’t believe it.
“The kids and neighbours said they had heard a pop of a rifle being fired but they didn't know where it came from and didn't see the bullet flying.
“Poor Harry. We took him to hospital and he had it removed and he's been stitched up. He's still in a lot of pain but he’s being so brave.
“He said to us the other night 'I wish this hadn't happened, it's hurting’.
“We need this to be in the spotlight to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We’re not making a mockery of the police but they were very slow to act.
“We’ve looked at the fence and we can't see any splinters so the bullet must have come through one of the knot holes, and there’s lots of them, and hit Harry."
Martyn claimed some locals had complained about a man firing an airgun in his back garden – but officers still don’t seem to have confronted him.
“Police should be taking this more seriously, a crime has been committed, and if the culprit’s not caught he could hit and injure someone else," he said.
FAMILY WANT ANSWERS
"It's horrible to see and as his dad I want answers. I think he was hit accidentally not deliberately but that doesn't matter someone is responsible for this."
Martyn's mum, Alison Brakes, also told of her anguish regarding Harry's ordeal.
“My grandson keeps saying that his cheek hurts and his dad’s fuming because the police investigation is not going as quick as he feels it should be," his gran added.
Leicestershire Police said today no arrests had been made but inquiries were continuing.
A force spokesperson said: "At around 3pm on Wednesday 4 August, officers received a report from a member of the public that a boy had been shot with an air rifle at a property in Stafford Leys, Leicester Forest East.
"Officers attended and the boy was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary with a non-life changing injury. He has since been discharged.
"No other injuries were reported.
"Officers have been carrying out a full investigation into the report including searches in the area and house to house enquiries.
"The investigation remains ongoing and the officer in the case has been keeping the family of the victim updated on the progress of enquiries."
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