DELTONA, Fla. - The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said that there was a shootout between two juveniles who ran away from a Central Florida children's group home and the deputies who found them.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood said deputies were met with gunfire on multiple occasions as they pursued the two juveniles, a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy.
Law enforcement eventually cornered the kids inside a home on Enterprise Osteen Road. After several hours of attempting to negotiate with the two juveniles, Sheriff Chitwood said deputies returned fire in self-defense, wounding the girl.
The girl is now out of surgery and in stable condition. The boy is being questioned by authorities.
During a late evening news conference, Sheriff Chitwood explained that this all began shortly after 5 p.m. when the two were reported missing from a juvenile home.
"A 12-year-old, who is a severe diabetic who has to have insulin every four hours, runs away and he runs away with a 14-year-old," he said. "And the 12-year-old, if he doesn't get his medication within four hours, it's going to be a critical time."
Sheriff Chitwood said his deputies finally located the teens in the Deltona area around 7:30 p.m. but ran into complications.
"Every time our deputies encounter these two little 'desperados,' they run from us," he explained.
According to deputies, a home break-in was reported in the vicinity just before 8 p.m. Deputies learned that there were three firearms inside the house: an AK-47, a pump shotgun, and a handgun. There were also approximately 200 rounds of ammunition, according to the sheriff.
"As deputies are surrounding the home and trying to establish a rapport, they are met with gunfire. And they're not met with gunfire once. They are not met with gunfire twice. They are met with gunfire multiple times," Chitwood said.
At one point, the sheriff said the girl – armed with the shotgun – emerged from the property and threatened to kill a deputy, and that shortly thereafter, the boy -- armed with the AK-47 -- opened fire on deputies.
"After all this goes on and we try to de-escalate, we throw a cell phone into the house to try to talk to them. The 14-year-old comes out of the garage with a pump shotgun, levels it at deputies, and despite warnings to drop it, she walks back into the garage. She comes back a second time and that's when deputies opened fire after taking multiple rounds. After they wound her, they automatically transition to try to save her life."
Chitwood said deputies then confronted the still-armed 12-year-old boy who eventually surrendered his weapon.
"I don't know what to say. Where have we gone wrong, that a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old think it's okay that take on law enforcement?" Chitwood asked. "We talk about juvenile justice reform? Deputies did everything they could tonight to de-escalate and they almost lost their lives."
The 14-year-old girl was struck twice by bullets, according to Chitwood, and was transported to a hospital. Following surgery, the girl is said to be in stable condition.
The sheriff's office says that both kids are facing felony charges of attempted first-degree murder of law enforcement officers and armed burglary.
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