A 9-year-old boy was accidentally shot in the face and critically injured yesterday in the bedroom of his Southeast Washington apartment, and police have arrested and charged his 13-year-old brother, D.C. police said.

Police spokesman Lt. William White III said the two boys, who were not identified because of their ages, were playing with a handgun that police said belonged to their mother when the shooting happened about 4 p.m. in a second floor apartment in the 2300 block of Good Hope Road.

The injured boy was in critical and unstable condition at Children's Hospital last night, a hospital spokeswoman said.

White said the 13-year-old has been charged with assault with a gun, a felony, in the shooting, and the case has been referred to the Family Division of D.C. Superior Court.

The boys apparently found the .22 semiautomatic pistol in the bedroom sometime Saturday and, believing it was unloaded, had been playing with the gun since that time, White said.

Last night, he said, "While the gun was in the hand of the 13-year-old, the gun accidentally discharged." White said the gun fired once and the slug entered the left eye of the 9-year-old and lodged in his brain.

White said the boys' mother was at work at the time of the shooting and their play was unsupervised. The boys' father is deceased, police said.

He said the 13-year-old is being held at the D.C. Receiving Home for Children, 1000 Mount Olivet Rd. NE, and will appear at a hearing in Superior Court today.