RUSTBURG, Va. -

When a tattoo is applied correctly by a licensed artist, safety and health are a top priority.

"We don't want to endanger someone's life, just by putting a tattoo on them," said Robert Smith, a licensed and reputable tattoo artist in Lynchburg.  "That is why we take precautions."

Smith works at Caspian Tattoo in Lynchburg, which disposes of needles and tubes after one use.  Artists always wear gloves, and use sanitizers and alcohol to keep procedures clean.

Studios like Caspian are the only legal place to get a tattoo.  It's against the law to apply the art at home, especially on minors, but that's exactly what a man is accused of doing in Campbell County.

"I don't think anyone could comprehend why someone would do this," said Stuart Herndon, an investigator with the Campbell County Sheriff's Office who is working the case of Alexander Edwards.

Edwards, 20, was baby-sitting two young girls in Concord December 22, when investigators say he held them down and forcibly gave them tattoos with an ink gun.

The girls, who are both under the age of 13, say they struggled to get away.

"We were fortunate that an observant teacher caught on to what happened," Herndon said.

The girls' school contacted the sheriff's office and child protective services.

Edwards is now facing felony charges of malicious wounding, abduction, and child abuse.

"It's a very sad situation, because both of these victims are unfortunately scarred for life," Herndon said.

Edwards has not been arrested yet.  He's being treated for some type of health issue, but deputies know where he is and they plan to serve him with his charges soon.