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Dayton chief after 2 kids shot in head: ‘This is one of the toughest’


Mother Claudena M. Helton, 30, is held on felonious assault charges.

Police chief says mental health of mother questioned; neighbor says, ‘She was … blank.’

A Dayton mother allegedly shot two of her children in the head and dragged their bloody bodies outside while she was naked, according to police.

Eight-year-old Khmorra Helton and her 6-year-old brother Kenden Helton were in critical condition Thursday evening, according to officials at Dayton Children’s Hospital. The children were transported by paramedics from the scene at 3821 Lori Sue Ave. An 11-year-old girl also was in the home but not injured, police said.

Claudena M. Helton, 30, was being held in the Montgomery County Jail.

“These are very traumatic events for the community. … This is one of the toughest,” Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl said.

FIRST REPORT: Mother shoots 2 of her children, police say

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.

Police were called to the home just after 10 a.m. Thursday when residents called 911 about a boy who needed medical care.

When police arrived, they arrested Claudena Helton. She was taken into custody, questioned and booked into the jail at 2:48 p.m. Thursday on two counts of felonious assault, according to jail and police records.

A Glock Model 43 9mm gun plus shell casings and bullet fragments were found inside the home, according to Biehl. The gun was not registered as stolen.

Biehl said the investigation will continue and police will present the case to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office for formal charges. Biehl said anyone with information can call (937) 333-1222.

RELATED: 6 recent times children have been gunshot victims

Helton had previous interactions with police, including allegations of child endangering and domestic violence, according to police and court records. She also declared bankruptcy in 2015.

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 Claudena Helton by the arm, “she didn’t resist,” the neighbor said. “She just looked lost and zoned out.”

“When I saw them when they carried that little boy out and I was standing right there and saw that, I wanted to throw up, cry, drop,” Pooler said, mentioning a wound to the boy’s head. “I don’t ever want to see that again.”

Another woman who lives in the neighborhood said she can’t believe a mother would harm her children.

“I was completely devastated. I was heartbroken. I was crying. I was emotional,” said Deona Terry, who has four children. “My friend called me hysterical because someone called her and told her, and then as I pulled up I heard the news, and then I found out it was some kids who graduated from the same school as my daughter.”

The incident happened just down the street from the Rosa Parks Learning Center, causing police to lock down that facility for about a half an hour while they had a graduation event.

Biehl said one of the children was recently removed from public school to be home schooled. Montgomery County Children Services confirmed they have an open and active case involving Claudena Helton.

VIDEO: Neighbor creates memorial

In February 2014, Dayton police were called to the Miami Valley Child Development Center on the 2900 block of Shiloh Spring Road to meet with children services staff.

A teacher at the center noticed that Khmorra — then 5 years old and of the same Lori Sue address as Thursday’s shooting — had bruises on her arms and was telling other children they hurt, according to a police narrative from police officer Charles Hurley.

Officials discovered that Khmorra also had swelling and marks on her cheek and a cut on her lip. She had a bruise on her chest and discoloration on her left thigh.

Khmorra told her teacher and investigators that her mother had hit her with the buckle end of a belt, the report states. The girl said her mother hit her repeatedly with the belt while on the bed because she was crying, the report states. Khmorra’s injuries were photographed as evidence.

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Authorities instructed her to come into the school. But the mother — whose name is not listed in the police report — rushed past the school’s front desk and went to her 3-year-old son’s classroom, where police found her, putting on his coat and getting him ready to leave, the report states.

The mother said “she was going to jail and needed to take her kids somewhere first,” said officer Hurley’s narrative. Hurley told her a decision on charges hadn’t been made and he was not planning to arrest her.

The mother said a boy at school touched her daughter’s butt the previous day, and she saw her daughter do it to her brother, which she forbid, police said. The mom said she spanked her daughter when she did it again.

Hurley told the woman that it looked like she had lost her temper while disciplining her child and went too far. Officials allowed Khmorra’s aunt to take the children for multiple days as part of a safety plan.

Hurley told her there would be an investigation and criminal charges potentially could be filed.

“Although I felt the discipline was very excessive, I didn’t think it rose to the level of serious physical harm,” Hurley wrote. “I made clear to her that that could change once the doctors examined her daughter.”

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