- Mar 3, 2018
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- The Beautiful Pacific Northwest
Neither of the kids are dead which is pretty miraculous considering the deputies fired over 60 rounds.
I guess they can keep from killing after all...
I guess they can keep from killing after all...
Volusia Sheriff calls for juvenile justice reform after children escape group home, shoot at deputies
Orlando Sentinel |
Jun 02, 2021 at 8:38 PMA 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl were in a shootout with deputies Tuesday night in Volusia County after the children broke into a house and armed themselves with guns, including an assault rifle, they found inside, Sheriff Mike Chitwood said.Eight deputies fired over 60 rounds during the incident, Chitwood said, and they have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s investigation. The children fired at the deputies on four separate occasions.
The girl was taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital with life-threatening injuries after being shot in the chest and abdomen, Chitwood said. During a Wednesday press conference, Chitwood said she was in critical, but stable, condition and credited deputies’ quick action to saving her life.
“None of us want to see her die,” he said.
No deputies were injured in the incident, though body-worn camera footage released by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday afternoon shows the children shooting at responding officers.
Charges of attempted first-degree murder and armed burglary against the two are pending, VCSO said. The children had run away from Florida United Methodist Children’s Home in Enterprise and were reported missing around 5 p.m. It was also reported the boy, who hit a member of the Methodist group with a stick before leaving, was diabetic and in need of medication.
The Orlando Sentinel generally does not release the names of juveniles involved in criminal cases unless they are charged as adults.
Children ‘ransacked’ home before firing at deputies
Body-worn camera footage released by the Sheriff’s Office, along with details revealed by the agency over the past day, shows how the incident escalated within an hour of the reported break-in.
Around 7:30 p.m. witnesses reported glass breaking at a home on Enterprise Osteen Road, VCSO said. Law enforcement had already been searching the area for the children, according to VCSO.
Deputies contacted the homeowner, who reported he had left for Publix about 15 minutes earlier with his children and no one should be in his home, Chitwood said Wednesday. He also told officials there was “a handgun, a shotgun and an AK-47 inside,” along with nearly 200 rounds of ammunition. Chitwood said the guns appeared to have not been secured inside the home and loaded prior to the children’s entry.
Deputies surrounded the home and began talking to the children, who “ransacked” the home, shattering windows and causing tens of thousands of dollars of damage, Chitwood said. They observed the girl using a baseball bat to destroy furniture, a bathtub and a toilet.
Then, about 8:30 p.m., the girl fired at a sheriff’s sergeant out a back patio door, Chitwood said.
Body-worn camera footage showed a deputy taking cover behind a tree outside the home. He radioed to other deputies the girl appeared to have a long gun and the boy looked “like he has something in his hand” before several shots rang out as the children started shooting out the home’s rear window.
The deputy ordered the children to put their guns down, but one fired another shot.
“Let’s not shoot these kids, man, let’s just hold off, take our time,” another deputy can be heard saying over the radio. “... Let’s not try to escalate this any further.”
The first deputy, still taking cover behind the tree, reported the girl was re-racking the shotgun and the boy was holding a firearm. He said over the radio he would challenge the children if they exited the house.
“Don’t let me do this. Don’t do this,” he whispered as he pointed his pistol toward the house.
Meanwhile, deputies tried talking the children out of the home, according to VCSO.
The deputy whose camera recorded the incident told others not to approach the house because the girl had the gun pointed at the door. Though the footage is too dark to see what happened, a gunshot is audible as the deputy reported the boy fired a round at him. Around 9 p.m., he said he saw the girl had an AK and a shotgun “wrapping around” her neck.
Soon after, the children left the house. The girl came out of the garage and pointed a gun at authorities twice, the sheriff’s office said.
Video released by VCSO cut to helicopter footage showing deputies taking cover behind a tree and shooting toward the house. The boy went back inside, and deputies reported the girl was down behind a garbage can but still was moving.
Deputies approached the girl to treat her injuries. Several requested a med kit and a deputy took his belt off to use it as a tourniquet. The footage ended as deputies appear to pick up the girl to take her to the hospital.
Shortly afterward, deputies found the boy, who was holding an AK-47. He surrendered after a 30-second standoff, Chitwood said.
The girl was taken to CFRH for life-saving surgery. When she was in stable condition, she was transferred to another hospital for further treatment, according to VCSO spokesperson Andrew Gant.
The boy was also taken to the hospital due to his diabetic condition. During an interview with deputies, he said the girl told him she was going to “roll [the deputies] down like GTA,” referencing the video game Grand Theft Auto, Chitwood said.
An investigation of the home revealed smashed furniture and an empty AK-47 banana clip, according to VCSO.
Chitwood blames broken system
In the day following the incident, Chitwood blamed Florida legislators and a broken juvenile justice system for allowing young, violent criminals to be released without implementing measures dedicated to reforming them.
An outraged Chitwood addressed the media outside the property just hours after the incident Tuesday night.
“The sanctity of human life is cheap on the streets. Here’s the indication, a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old have it so bad in life that they are going to defy law enforcement and engage them in a gun battle,” he said. “The more we deescalate it, the more we’re trying to get the armored vehicles out here, and pepper spray and tear gas, the more brazen they got.
“That they just felt that they continue to open fire so much so that they threatened to kill my sergeant and then took on my crime suppression team. Unfortunately she lost. I have no sympathy, none. Anyone that says I’m an a—hole, so be it. Had any of these deputies entered that property, I’d be explaining to their husband or wife why they weren’t coming home tonight.”
Chitwood said it was not the first time law enforcement had been involved with the 14-year-old. She was previously arrested for stealing dogs and was later sentenced to a halfway house, which she burned down April 10, Chitwood said.The Department of Juvenile Justice then sent her to the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, which takes children who experience sexual abuse, physical abuse, abandonment, drug abuse, illness or the death of a parent.[Popular on OrlandoSentinel.com] DeSantis signs $101 billion budget laden with federal COVID-19 money »The boy had no prior criminal history, but he was reprimanded for making two threats at school earlier this spring, Chitwood said during Wednesday’s press conference. He threatened to throw a brick at an administrator in early April and days later threatened to kill another student and “spread his guts all over the bleachers,” Chitwood said.He noted that FUMCH has had numerous problems with children in the past, stating that it is “not equipped” to handle the children the Department of Juvenile Justice is handing over to them.VCSO received close to 300 calls regarding the home in 2020. On April 3, deputies arrested a 14-year-old boy from FUMCH who had left campus and allegedly beat a 52-year-old security guard, Michael Ellis, who was escorting the teen back. Ellis later died in the hospital.“You need to be exposing the Department of Juvenile Justice. It’s a failure. It’s a fraud. It’s a fake,” he said. “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. If it wasn’t for their training and their supervision, somebody would have ended up dead.”Chitwood called for legislators to take violent juvenile crimes seriously and “get on the streets” to talk to victims of juvenile crime, in the hopes they will make legislation allowing deputies to treat such crimes as seriously as those committed by adults.A spokesperson for the Department of Juvenile Justice, Amanda Slama, did not return requests for comment Tuesday in response to Chitwood’s claims.“We’re arresting these kids in the State of Florida for violent crimes, and the Department of Juvenile Justice wants to put them into places that can’t handle them,” Chitwood said. “... The juvenile justice system is broken. People need to face facts.”