A Prince George's County high school senior shot during a graduation celebration at Kings Dominion theme park Friday night was removed from the critical list after surgery and is in stable condition, a hospital spokesman said yesterday.

Investigators said they plan to talk to the student, James Derek Hughes, 18, of Lanham for the first time today because of his improved condition.

Howard Wray, the Hanover County Sheriff's Department investigator who is leading the probe, said he still doesn't know whether Hughes, a senior at DuVal High School, was a target or was shot by a sniper shooting randomly into the crowd.

Wray said he had received sketchy information that Hughes had been in a scuffle earlier that evening, but that "we probably won't know one way or the other until we talk to him."

Hughes had joined two busloads of Prince George's seniors for the 85-mile trip to the park for an annual "Grad Night" celebration, attended by about 10,000 Washington area graduating seniors.

Wray said about three shots were fired around 11 p.m. and hundreds of youths ran for the exits. Hughes was standing near arcades and a flower bed when friends reached him.

The youth was taken by helicopter to the Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia Hospital in Richmond, and surgeons removed a small-caliber bullet from his lower chest. The bullet had passed through one lung and part of his heart, a hospital spokesman said. "They really didn't think he was going to make it," the spokesman said.

There were no other injuries. The theme park in Doswell was open for business yesterday.