Samantha Eubanks was taking care of six children in her Dearborn, Michigan, home one morning in late September when she heard a noise upstairs.
Her 3-year-old son, she discovered, had found one of her husband's handguns. The toddler pulled the trigger, shooting two other 3-year-old children - one in the face and the other in the shoulder, prosecutors said, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The two wounded children were rushed to the hospital in critical condition, but are now recovering in their homes. One of them lost an eye, and has undergone numerous surgeries, local news station WDIV reported.
On Thursday, authorities filed charges against Eubanks and her husband, Timothy Eubanks, 32. Eubanks, who ran an unlicensed day care facility in her house, knew her husband's weapons were in the second-floor bedroom, prosecutors told the Free Press. Timothy Eubanks left the home that morning knowing that he left two handguns unsecured upstairs, prosecutors said.
The wife faces 12 counts of second degree child abuse and two counts of felony firearm, while her husband faces six counts of second degree child abuse.
They were both arraigned Thursday, and each could be sentenced to 10 years in prison if found guilty. Samantha Eubanks appeared on the verge of tears during the court hearing, according to a video captured by WDIV.
"The allegations in this case have set forth a tremendous tragedy," 19th District Court Judge Gene Hunt said at the arraignment. "And the tragedy, although not intentional, was the result of reckless disregard for the safety of the children."
The children shot in the home will require "long-term care," Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said in a news conference Thursday.
"With these types of injuries, they just don't go away," Haddad said in the news conference. "Physically they're going to heal up but they're not going to go away."
The Eubanks have six children of their own. Two of them - the couple's 3-year-old twin boys - were in the family's home at the time of the shooting, prosecutors told the Free Press. At least three of the others were at school at the time. The Eubanks' six children are now staying with other family members.
The couple is prohibited from having any contact with the victims and their families. They are not allowed to have any unsupervised contact with children or travel outside of the state of Michigan, the judge said at the arraignment. Bond was set at $20,000 for each of them.
"I will continue to state emphatically and often that it is extremely dangerous to have firearms in a home accessible to children," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said, according to WDIV. "It is an understatement to say that this cannot and should not ever be tolerated."
In Thursday's news conference, Haddad said he was still "deeply troubled" by what happened.
"That toddler apparently knew how to fire that weapon," he said. "The fact that the weapon was in proximity where someone very small could get it is totally unacceptable."
He said that all gun owners have an obligation to keep those around them safe.
"Gun safety across America is a grave concern for me, given the number of guns, the number of accidental deaths that occur every day," Haddad added. "I think we have to be a more accountable nation when it comes to gun safety."
Neighbours of the Eubanks family said they had previously complained about the unlicensed day care home.
"I've seen them out in the backyard playing in their diapers . . . five or six kids at a time out there, maybe even more," neighbour Carolyn Rittenberry told WDIV. "A lot of times it's just the other - her older children - watching them."
But Samantha Eubanks' sister, Ashley Escobedo, told WXYZ that she wasn't running a day care, per say. She never advertised her babysitting as a business, and she charged parents less than what a day care would cost.
"As of right now she just wanted to help family and friends," Escobedo said, adding that many of them are single parents.
Escobedo said she was stunned to hear about the shooting, because her sister "hates guns."
Timothy Eubanks' cousin, Jarrett Schmidt, was also surprised, he told WDIV. He has previously allowed Samantha Eubanks to care for his daughter, and is confident that his cousin, who is a hunter, would never leave his guns out within reach of children, he said.
"I'd be shocked, because he keeps everything hidden," Schmidt said. "He keeps everything out because he has kids. He's a responsible parent."