According to police, the two boys were close and the 15-year-old shooter is remorseful in what police say appears to be an accidental shooting.
The 15-year-old's mother lives with the 11-year-old victim's father. They moved into a rental home in Dearborn Heights about a month ago.
The older boy is telling police they were playing with the gun when it went off, striking the younger boy in the head. Neighbors have seen the boys outside but don't know the family at all.
"I feel terrible for that boy and can't imagine what those parents are going through," said Carla Catalano. "They must live the rest of their lives with this."
Relatives returned from the hospital in mid-afternoon and left a 1/2 later, declining comment except to say the boy is holding on. Police released the shooter to his parents after questioning on Sunday.
Police are tracing the gun. The 15-year-old told them he brought it from his grandmother's house in North Carolina some time ago. Investigators say it appears neither parent knew about the weapon.
They are still trying to determine if an adult was home at the time.
"What is the parental involvement? It's like we are raising a generation of orphans," said Catalano. "It could happen anywhere because of the world we live in."
Dearborn Heights police are expected to hand off the case to the Wayne County prosecutor who will determine if charges are warranted, and that may take a few days.