Another child, an 11-year-old daughter, who was at home at the time of the shooting, was not hurt.
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The mother, Claudena Helton, 30, has been booked into Montgomery County Jail at 2:48 p.m. Thursday on two counts of felonious assault, police said. A handgun was recovered at the home.
Helton has prior child endangering charges in Dayton.
At the shooting scene, a neighbor who didn’t want to be identified said she saw the mother wandering naked and asked another neighbor to get a sheet to cover her.
“She was just walking around in circles,” said the woman, who has lived in the neighborhood for decades. “She wouldn’t blink. She wasn’t violent. She wasn’t aggressive. She wasn’t anything. She was … blank.”
The woman said that when an officer grabbed Helton by the arm, “she didn’t resist,” the neighbor said. “She just looked lost and zoned out.”
Police Chief Richard Biehl said the mother shot the children inside the home and then took them outside. Dayton police Major Eric Henderson said police found the children in the front yard of the property.
“It’s an unfortunate incident,” Henderson said.
“These are very traumatic events for the community. ... This is one of the toughest,” Biehl said.
As to why a mother would shoot her own children, Biehl said: “I don’t think we have an answer for that right now,” adding that there may be a potential mental health issue and a perceived threat.
Why the children were shot has not been determined yet. Biehl told The AP that prosecutors and detectives are discussing criminal charges against the mother.
Helton was in the Montgomery County Jail Thursday night pending filing of formal charges.