A 12-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl who broke into a home in Enterprise, Fla, after running away from a children’s group home engaged in a shootout with Volusia County law enforcement on Tuesday.
Body-camera footage shows one deputy using a tree for cover as the two juvenile gunmen opened fire. During the incident, the minors used an AK-47 and shotgun, and later handguns, to fire at deputies outside the home, the sheriff’s office said.
“This went on for hours. This wasn’t a split second, we exchange gunfire. We were out here from 7:30 until 9 o’clock until we returned fire,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said, according to First Coast News.
Eventually, the girl exited the house, pointed the shotgun at law enforcement and threatened to kill them, at which point she was shot multiple times and wounded.
Shortly after, the young boy put down the AK-47 and surrendered. He was not injured during the exchange of gunfire.
Both juveniles were transported to a local hospital. The wounded girl is said to be in stable condition.
“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,” Sheriff Chitwood said in a statement. “If it wasn’t for their training and their supervision… Somebody would have ended up dead.”
The sheriff’s department said the children were first reported missing from the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home shortly before 5 p.m. after the teen girl had struck one of the group home’s employees with a stick.
“The Sheriff’s Office handled close to 300 calls at the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home in 2020,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “Last month, a 14-year-old boy at the group home pleaded no contest to a charge of manslaughter in the death of a security officer he struck during an altercation in late March.
According to Chitwood, the girl involved in the shootout had also previously stolen “a bunch of puppies” and burned down another children’s home in Flagler County.
“I don’t know what to say. Where have we gone wrong that a 12-year-old and 14-year-old think it’s OK to take on law enforcement,” Chitwood said. “What the hell is the department of juvenile justice doing sending them to places that can’t handle them?”
The minors are both facing charges of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and armed burglary. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement responded to conduct a standard investigation of the incident, and the deputies involved in the shooting were placed on temporary paid leave, officials said.