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Skunk-hunt man blasts cousin (8) by mistake

A woman hosting a Halloween party shone a light for her son to help him shoot what they thought was a skunk -- but it turned out to be his eight-year-old cousin in a black-and-white costume.

The girl, who was hit in the shoulder, arm, back and neck, was hospitalised in critical condition following the shooting in the Rochester area of Pennsylvania, US.

The woman hosting the party on Saturday night, Janet Grant, told police someone told her there was a skunk nearby and she asked her son to shoot it.

The son, Thomas Grant (24), grabbed a shotgun while his mother pointed the beam of a flashlight at a hillside, police chief Ronald Leindecker said.

Mr Grant spotted what he thought was a skunk under a tree and fired, but then he heard a scream from his cousin.

People who live in the neighbourhood said neither Mr Grant nor his family had ever caused problems.