The child was doing his homework inside his house on Evanston near Harper and Outer Drive on Detroit's east side when he was shot in his upstairs bedroom.
The boy fell to the floor, bleeding from the neck.
"The children who were on the inside of the house say ... all of a sudden they felt something like glass," said Detroit Deputy Chief Renee Hall. "And that he was shot in the back, the neck-upper back area."
An 18-year-old boy and two other children were also home and called 911. Police rushed the 8-year-old in a cruiser to St. John Hospital on Moross.
The parents who were not at home, met the boy at the hospital.
Detroit fire deployed their ladder to the roof of the house where evidence technicians determined that the round fired appeared to come through the roof.
That trajectory suggest someone fired a gun into the air and the bullet came down on the roof striking the boy. Police believe it was an accident and that nobody inside the house was the intended target.
Neighbor Vincent Hendon is a father of young children and said that gunfire in the area is not unusual.
"I have two sons, 11 and 7," Hendon said. "When we had New Year's here, there was so many gunshots around here, you really have to lay on the floor for an hour, hour and a half."
Police scoured the surrounding blocks to find who fired the shot.
"Some of the kids play with each other, but a lot of the kids stay in the home," Hendon said. "Just (because of) the rash of violence that's occurred in the city of Detroit.
The boy was in temporary serious condition but later doctors changed his status to critical.