An 11-year-old boy was shot and critically wounded Tuesday night in what appeared to be the accidental discharge of a gun in an apartment in Prince George's County, police said.

They said the boy was in the Suitland home of a neighbor in a townhouse development in the 3000 block of Bellamy Way and was watching as the neighbor was putting away a handgun. They were in an upstairs room when the gun discharged, and the boy was struck in the upper body, police said.

"At this point, we believe [this to be] a tragic accident," said Jennifer Donelan, the director of media relations for the county police.

The boy was in the care of the 33-year-old male neighbor at the time of the shooting, police said. After the shooting at about 6:30 p.m., the man ran next door to the boy's home and contacted the child's mother, police said. The three of them then rushed to Joint Base Andrews for medical care before the boy was taken to Children's National Medical Center, police said.

The boy remained in critical condition as of Wednesday.

Neither the neighbor nor the child was named, and police said they were continuing to investigate. Police said the man was cooperating with authorities and was distraught by the incident.

Donelan described the events as a "horrible, horrible night for two families."

The man is the legal owner of the handgun, police said. Detectives will forward their investigative findings to the Prince George's County state's attorney's office to determine whether charges are appropriate in the case, police said.

Dana Hedgpeth and Lynh Bui contributed to this report.