DELTONA, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Deputies in central Florida shot a 14-year-old girl who they say shot at them multiple times using a pump-action shotgun.
The teen, who had run away from a juvenile group home with a 12-year-old boy, was in stable condition after surgery, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a news conference late Tuesday.
An angry Chitwood said the assault on law enforcement officers by two armed children was “something I’ve never seen in 35 years in policing.”
The group home in Deltona reported the pair missing on Tuesday evening, telling authorities the boy is diabetic and needed insulin every four hours. They said the girl hit a staff member with a stick before running away, a sheriff’s news release said.
As deputies were searching the area around 7:30 p.m., a passerby flagged them down and reported hearing glass breaking at a nearby house.
Deputies saw the pair inside the home and contacted its owner, who said no one was supposed to be at the home. The homeowner also informed the sheriff’s office that there was a shotgun, an AK-47 and 200 rounds of ammunition inside.
Deputies surrounded the house and began talking to the pair. The girl threatened to kill a sheriff’s sergeant and fired at him multiple times about 8:30 p.m., the sheriff said.
Authorities said the children fired at the deputies four separate times over the next 35 minutes. At one point, Chitwood said, an officer went close enough to 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. They repeatedly asked her to drop the weapon, Chitwood said. She 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.
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As the deputies provided medical aid to the girl, the boy, who was armed with the AK-47, surrendered, the release said.
“I could not be prouder of my deputies and my supervisors on the scene,” Chitwood said on Wednesday’s edition of The Donlon Report. “If you get to listen to the hours and hours and hours of body camera video and the radio transmissions they did everything humanly possible not to shoot these kids because they’re parents themselves. Some of my deputies that’s the age of their children. They didn’t want this to happen.”
Chitwood said the preliminary information shows the deputies took “multiple, multiple rounds – until they were left with no other choice but to return fire.”
He said the girl had been in trouble various times over the past year. She was accused of stealing puppies and was put in a half-way home in Flagler County. He said she burned the house down on April 10 and was sent back to Volusia County.
“What the hell is the Department of Juvenile Justice doing? Sending these kids to places that can’t handle them,” Chitwood said.
“We’re failing miserably as Americans,” Chitwood said on The Donlon Report when asked why children so young would end up shooting at police officers. “We’re failing miserably. There’s no accountability. The system here in Florida and every other state in terms of juvenile justice is broken.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report