Girl, 14, and boy, 12, open fire on deputies after home break-in

Sheriff Mike Chitwood called the assault on officers by two armed children "something I've never seen in 35 years in policing"


By ArLuther Lee
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DELTONA, Fla. — A 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl who ran away from a juvenile group home Tuesday night in central Florida allegedly opened fire on police officers after the youths broke into a house and armed themselves with several of the homeowner's guns.

The siege happened at 1050 Enterprise Osteen Road in the city of Deltona, north of Orlando, where at least eight deputies reportedly took cover amid the trees outside the home as bullets whizzed by.

None of the deputies were injured.

The 14-year-old girl, however, was shot and wounded after police said she fired at them multiple times using a pump-action shotgun. The boy, who was armed with the AK-47, surrendered.

As of Wednesday morning, the girl was said to be in critical condition after undergoing surgery at an area hospital.

At a news conference late Tuesday, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the assault on law enforcement officers by two armed children was "something I've never seen in 35 years in policing."

The incident began early Tuesday evening when staff at the Florida United Methodist Children's Home called police and reported the pair missing. The girl hit a staff member with a stick before fleeing with the boy, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.

It was unclear what sparked the confrontation. Police were told that the boy was diabetic and needed insulin every four hours, increasing the urgency to find them.

Deputies were searching the immediate area around 7:30 p.m. when a passerby alerted them to glass breaking at a nearby house.

The children were spotted inside.

Authorities then contacted the homeowner, who was not present at the time and informed police that no one else was supposed to be there. Sheriff's officials were then told that a shotgun, an AK-47 and 200 rounds of ammunition were inside.

That's when deputies surrounded the house and began trying to talk the two into surrendering peacefully, reports said.

But the girl threatened to kill a sheriff's sergeant and fired at him multiple times about 8:30 p.m., police said.

Over the next 35 minutes, authorities said the children fired at the deputies four separate times. At one point an officer approached the home to toss a cellphone inside to try to talk to them.

"They were traversing the length of that house and opening fire on deputies from different angles," Chitwood said. "They were out on the pool deck, they shot from the bedroom window, they shot from the garage door. This is like Bonnie and Clyde at 12 years old and 14 years of age."

The girl eventually came out of the garage with the shotgun and pointed it at deputies, who repeatedly ordered her to drop the weapon, Chitwood said. Ignoring their commands, the girl walked back into the garage.

"She comes back a second time and that's when deputies open fire and she takes multiple rounds," Chitwood said.

Deputies provided medical aid to the girl before emergency officials arrived on the scene.

"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," the sheriff said. "If it wasn't for their training and their supervision... Somebody would have ended up dead."

Chitwood said the preliminary information shows the deputies took "multiple, multiple rounds — until they were left with no other choice but to return fire."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is withholding the names of the children because of their age.

Chitwood said the girl had been in trouble numerous times over the past year. She was accused of stealing puppies and burning down a house on April 10.

"What the hell is the Department of Juvenile Justice doing? Sending these kids to places that can't handle them," Chitwood said.

Information provided by The Associated Press was used to supplement this report.

(c)2021 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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