Home alone in a small town in northern Ohio, authorities said, an 8-year-old boy loaded a .22-caliber rifle and opened fire on his younger sister.
Prosecutors said that the boy called his mother Saturday morning to tell her that his 4-year-old sister had been shot. The mother, who had left the children alone to go to work on a horse farm near their home in Hayesville, returned home to check on the girl, washed her up and then went back to work, prosecutors said.
“She came home, cleaned up a bed cover with blood on it, examined the 4-year-old and was aware the 4-year-old was injured at the time,” Ashland County Prosecutor Christopher Tunnell said during a recent bond hearing.
Then, “despite that knowledge,” Tunnell said, the woman returned to work, “leaving the 8-year-old and the 4-year-old home alone yet again.”
The prosecutor told the Ashland Times-Gazette that the boy would not be charged with a crime, saying that he is “too young to understand.” But the children’s mother, 27-year-old Alyssa Edwards, faces two counts of endangering children, according to the criminal complaint. Edwards pleaded not guilty Wednesday and is due back in court March 13, according to the court.
Her attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
Deputies with the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office were called around 2:30 p.m. Saturday about a 4-year-old at a hospital in Cleveland who had been shot and suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, authorities said in a statement.
The prosecutor said during Edwards’s bond hearing that her husband had gone to work early Saturday morning, believing that she was planning to take the two children to stay with a babysitter. The husband is the father of the 4-year-old and the stepfather of the 8-year-old, Tunnell said.
But, Tunnell said, Edwards left the children home alone and went to work at a horse training facility, which is in nearby Loudonville.
A police investigation revealed that while Edwards and her husband were gone, the 8-year-old got the rifle, which is kept in a gun cabinet, Tunnell said. He said it was unclear whether the cabinet was locked but noted that the boy “would have the ability and the means to open it” and that he was “familiar with the firearm.”
Tunnell said the boy loaded the magazine, and then shot his sister three to four times.
Sometime in the early afternoon — after Edwards had checked on the 4-year-old, returned to work and finished her work day — the girl began to urinate from a bullet wound in her abdomen, Tunnell said.
Edwards then took the child to the hospital and, at that point, contacted her husband to tell him about the shooting, Tunnell said. After the child was admitted for treatment, the hospital notified authorities.
The girl is in stable condition and is expected to recover, authorities said in the statement. The boy is in state custody, according to reports.
Edwards has been charged with one misdemeanor count and one felony count of endangering children, according to the court documents.
She is being held at Ashland County Jail on $30,000 bond, according to online booking records.