Volusia County sheriff's deputies were forced to fire on a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old after the two children reportedly opened fire on officers during a botched home robbery.
What are the details?
According to a Wednesday report from WFOR-TV, the two children — reportedly foster children who had run away from Florida United Methodist Children's Home — broke into an empty home Tuesday and discovered its owner possessed an AK-47, a pump shotgun, a handgun, and 200 rounds of ammunition.
In remarks on the incident, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said that officers began searching for the two because the 12-year-old — identified by WKMG-TV as Travis O'Brien — is insulin-dependent.
"So the deputies in the Deltona area go out looking for this 12-year-old and this 14-year-old because the 12-year-old is insulin-dependent and the 12-year-old, if he doesn't get his medication within four hours, it's going to be a critical medical emergency," Chitwood explained.
WKMG reported that O'Brien, along with the female suspect — identified as 14-year-old Nicole Jackson — broke into an area home as they fled. A neighbor reportedly heard glass breaking and called it in to authorities, who quickly arrived at the home.
When deputies arrived on the scene, the station reported, the youths reportedly began shooting at them with the weapons they'd found inside the unnamed owner's home. The pair, authorities said, were reportedly intent on killing police officers.
"Their conversation was they were going to kill my sergeant. They were coming out to kill cops. They were coming out to kill deputies, that's the conversation," Chitwood said in remarks on the horrifying incident.
Chitwood said that when officers arrived on the scene, they attempted to negotiate with the pair for nearly two hours before they were forced to fire on the pair. During that time, the two were said to have destroyed the homeowner's furniture, toilets, and a tub with a baseball bat while targeting officers with bullets.
"This went on for hours," Chitwood said. "This wasn't a split-second, we exchange gunfire. We were out here from 7:30 to 9 o'clock until we returned fire."
How did the standoff end?
According to reports, the two continually shot at deputies from a variety of vantage points inside the home, including from the home's pool deck, one of its bedrooms, and from the garage. Around 9 p.m., Chitwood said, Jackson reportedly emerged from the home's garage with a pump shotgun and pointed it at deputies.
"[D]espite warnings to drop it, she walked back into the garage, she comes back a second time, and that's when deputies opened fire after taking multiple rounds," Chitwood explained.
Forced to fire back, deputies' bullets struck the girl in the abdomen and arm. The boy reportedly surrendered the AK-47 when he saw that the girl had been hit. No others were hurt in connection with the incident.
“Our deputies did everything they could tonight to de-escalate and they almost lost their lives to a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old," Chitwood said in a statement on the incident. “Where have we gone wrong that 12-year-old and 14-year-old think it's OK to take on law enforcement? What the hell is the Department of Juvenile Justice doing sending these kids to places that can't handle them?"
The girl was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. WKMG reported that she was in stable condition as of Wednesday.
Both children are said to face felony charges of attempted first-degree murder of law enforcement officers and armed burglary.
What did the sheriff have to say?
"My deputies showed more restraint than I'm showing right now because I'm furious that we could be burying somebody tonight," Chitwood said. "They took multiple, multiple rounds. ... And I know for a fact one banana clip was empty from the AK-47. I know from the radio transmissions that a 12-year-old opened fire on us. I know that the 14-year-old opened fire on us with a shotgun, and then walked out and threatened one of my sergeants and told him she was going to kill him. And we didn't return fire. But after she came out of the garage, hey. There was nothing left that we could do. We had to do what we had to do."
Chitwood also said that the Florida United Methodist Children's Home is ill-equipped to deal with such children and pointed out that over the last year, police were called to the home at least 289 times — including for an incident in which a security guard was beaten to death.
He added, "I could not be prouder of the way my deputies acted. They went above and beyond for what they did. And also, I'll know tonight I'll drop down on my hands and knees and pray that I'm not going to somebody's home, one of my deputies' homes, and telling them that they were killed in the line of duty, and killed by a 12-year-old or a 14-year-old. This is unbelievable."