By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Timothy Eubanks, 34, of Dearborn was sentenced to up to two years of probation for six counts of second degree child abuse in the Sept. 26, 2017, shooting of two toddlers in his home daycare. He pleaded guilty to the charges on June 11, 2018, avoiding a jury trial.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Hathaway handed down the sentence to Eubanks during a hearing on Feb. 15 and also said that she would review the probation sentencing on Feb. 20, 2020.
As part of Eubanks’ sentencing, he is required to start a national gun safety campaign to educate and reach out to millions of people to let them know what his “carelessness, thoughtlessness and negligence” caused.
Hathaway said she wanted Eubanks to inform the public about gun safety practices and home firearm safety courses, something he couldn’t do if he was in jail.
“And let me tell you, I have a strong suspicion that you, like millions of other people in this country, were thinking that having guns in your home was a way of protecting your family,” she said. “And isn’t it ironic that while you were trying to protect your family, you end up with your family hurt, another family hurt and a community hurt. It’s just ironic, that people think that having guns, even in their home, is a way to protect themselves and their families. The answer to that question is still out there.”
Hathaway also took note that Eubanks was remorseful during the sentencing as he cried and apologized for the shooting. She said the people on both sides of the case were good people and that the shooting was nothing intentional.
Before the sentencing was handed down, mothers of the two boys who were shot at the Eubanks’ house spoke about the struggle their children have had since the shooting.
Elizabeth Fry, mother of Damien Galante, 5, who was 3 when he was shot in the shoulder, said the shooting left him a fractured clavicle as a result of a through and through bullet wound.
“In the days that followed the incident, my son would tell us what happened, just very matter a factly,” Fry said as she teared up. “‘Mommy, my friend shot me and he shot my friend. It wasn’t very nice.’ That’s what he would tell us.
“As time went on he would start to ask questions as to why his friend shot him and I’m not really sure how you answer that question to a 3-year-old so we did the best we could. We just explained to him that his little friend didn’t quite understand what he was doing, that he was too little to understand the ramifications of what he was doing.”
Fry also said she was grateful that her son was only 3 because he couldn’t understand how close he could’ve come to just not being here but that Galante remembers everything that happened. Galante has spoken to a doctor a few times about the shooting, Fry said.
Krystal Newton, mother of Kaeson Dishon, 4, who was two when he was shot in the head with a bullet that exited behind his ear, spoke about the surgeries and medicines her son is currently facing and taking.
“Due to the accident, my son lost his right eye and his jaw was completely fractured,” Newton said. “He was in a comatose state for about a couple weeks and his mouth was wired shut.
“They had to do plastic and reconstructive surgery to the whole right side of his face, he has a surgery coming up on March 18 to do reconstruction of his nose, tear ducts and everything that the bullet messed up on the way through.”
Newton added that her son wakes up with night terrors screaming, so he is on sleeping medication and several medications for post-traumatic stress disorder. She said her son was in surgery from the time of the shooting to about midnight that night, and in addition to the reconstruction he could have a brain issue due to bullet fragments.
In the courtroom for the sentencing was Eubanks’ wife, Samantha Eubanks, whose case is currently pending in the court system. She was charged with 12 counts of second degree child abuse and two counts of felony firearms violations.
The Eubanks own the house in the 3600 block of Harding where their 3-year-old son shot two other boys.
Police and fire responded to the house at 10:30 a.m. on the report of a shooting where the toddler shot Dishon and Galante. A primary investigation revealed the possibility both boys were injured from a single shot.
Samantha Eubanks was watching six children, ages 4 months to 3 years, including her own, inside the house. The unsecured handguns were in the upstairs bedroom low enough for the Eubanks’ son to gain access, police said. Other weapons left in the house by Timothy Eubanks in addition to the gun were recovered by officers.
According to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the house was not licensed as a home daycare.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])