ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. -- Police in a small North Carolina town are searching for a shooter who sprayed a church playground with gunfire, striking four youths playing basketball and critically wounding a 12-year-old boy.

The Rev. James Gailliard at Word Tabernacle Church in Rocky Mount says the shooting happened Monday shortly before 6 p.m., as neighborhood teens gathered to shoot hoops on courts behind the sanctuary.

The pastor says he heard more than 15 gunshots and then held a boy shot in the head until authorities arrived.

The child was transported by helicopter to a hospital, where he remained in critical condition. Gailliard said the others shot - ages 15, 17 and 19 - were treated and released.

The shooting comes just over a week after a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed nearby.