IMMOKALEE, Fla. (AP) _ The brother of Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James was in critical condition after being shot in the back early Monday.

Cherron James, 24, was shot in the back and the bullet exited through his chest. He was flown to Lee Memorial Hospital.

``He was in a vehicle and they flagged down an ambulance and said he had been shot,'' Collier County Sheriff spokeswoman Tina Osceola said.

Investigators think James was shot outside an apartment building at about 2 a.m., but he gave a conflicting story to police.

``He was very evasive to say the least. He was shot, of course, and that was one problem,'' Osceola said. ``At first what he told us is that a man in a black ski mask came up from behind him. And then later he was able to say a certain suspect did it, but we're not sure what happened.''

Police had a suspect, but no arrests had been made. Police have recovered a casing from the bullet they think struck James, Osceola said.

Edgerrin James and his five brothers were raised by their mother in Immokalee, an impoverished farming community in southwest Florida. Edgerrin James played for the University of Miami before foregoing his senior year to enter the draft.

Edgerrin James, the fourth overall pick in the April 1999 draft, was the NFL's offense rookie of the year last season and played in the Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,553 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 62 passes for 586 yards and four scores.

Colts spokesman Craig Kelley said James was aware of the shooting. James attended the team meetings and film reviews, then left without commenting on the news.

The family asked that the Colts not issue a statement.

The Colts do not practice again until Wednesday, and it is not clear whether James will participate, Kelley said.

A phone message left with James' agent, Leigh Steinberg, had not been returned.