THE distraught family of a five-year-old boy fighting for his life after his cousin accidentally shot him in the face was last night anxiously awaiting the results of emergency surgery.
The boy was playing in a shed at a family home along Granite Belt Drive at Cottonvale, near Stanthorpe, on Tuesday afternoon, when his 12-year-old cousin picked up a rifle.
While playing with the weapon, he accidentally fired a shot at the boy's face.
The victim's distraught grandfather, Tony Calvisi, last night told The Courier-Mail the children were forbidden from touching guns, but curiosity got the better of them.
"They were playing with something they were always told never to touch, and I don't know why," Mr Calvisi said.
"(The gun) was in a place where they shouldn't have got to it. But children, they find things."
Mr Calvisi held back tears while talking about the tragedy that has shocked a small community.
The Calvisi family has lived in the Stanthorpe area for five generations. It was the first accident of its kind in the family, he said.
"They're children. It's an accident - an unfortunate one. I don't know why it's happened," he said.
"We're really upset about what's happened. We can't put it into words.
The boy's father, Robert Calvisi, was last night at Lady Cliento Children's Hospital in Brisbane.
The child underwent surgery for his wound about 5pm, his grandfather said.
"He's just gone into surgery and that's all I've heard," he said.
"All that the doctors are telling us … is that he's critical and he's stable."
A neighbour said she only found out about the accident yesterday.
She said gunshots were common in the area because residents often killed rabbits.
The woman, who declined to be named, said the Calvisi family was highly respected in the region and were popular members of the Cottonvale school, which closed in 2004.
"I'm really shocked. I can't imagine. How do you deal with something like that?" She said.
"And because it's a family that has been here for generations, I'm sure other families who have been here for generations, who have grown up with them, would be really deeply affected by this too."
It is understood the 12-year-old boy who pulled the trigger had not been interviewed by police yesterday afternoon.