A 14-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy opened fire on deputies in lengthy encounter, and authorities only fired back at the girl as a last resort, said Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood.
“I don’t know where we get the men and women who respond to these incidents, who do what they do, and do it with bravery, do it with courage, and do it while trying to protect the sanctity of human life,” Chitwood said during a heated press conference in which he criticized the state juvenile justice system, lawmakers, and calls to “defund” police. “But [law enforcement] took rounds – multiple, multiple rounds – until they were left with no other choice but to return fire.”
The incident began around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Chitwood said, citing radio transmissions, computer dispatch calls, and supervisors at the scene. A 12-year-old, who was a “severe diabetic” that had to have insulin every four hours, ran away with a 14-year-old girl, he said.
The 14-year-old was in the system on account of a larceny conviction for stealing puppies, Chitwood said. She burned down a halfway house on April 10, he said. Both of the runaways had been staying at Florida United Methodist Children’s Home at the time of Tuesday’s incident, Chitwood said.
Deputies in the Daytona area looked for them. This was already considered an urgent situation because of the boy’s medical condition, but the children ran away every time authorities encountered them, Chitwood said.
The situation began to escalate later on. A passerby waved down deputies, reporting hearing broken glass at a home. Deputies saw evidence of forced entry. Authorities made contact with the homeowner, asking if anyone should have access to the residence. The sheriff said the homeowner, who left just 15 minutes before, said no one should be at the residence but noted that there were three guns: a AK-47, a pump shotgun, and handgun, plus 200 rounds of ammunition.
The girl had the shotgun, according the sheriff. The boy had the AK-47. There were four points between 8:28 p.m. and 8:54 p.m. in which shots on deputies were reported. At 8:40 p.m., the girl emerged from the property and threatened to kill a sergeant. The duo opened fire from different angles: a pool deck, bedroom window and from the garage door, Chitwood said. Deputies threw in a cell phone during the encounter in an attempt to negotiate.
Finally, the girl stepped out of the garage, pointed the shotgun at deputies, walked back into the garbage despite warnings to drop the firearm, then stepped out a second time, Chitwood said. That’s when authorities opened fire, he said. Authorities said the teen sustained wounds to her chest, arm, and abdomen, but she survived and is in stable condition. The 12-year-old soon surrendered.
The sheriff’s office has since released body camera footage of deputies’ response to the scene.
Authorities had no cover except for trees and vehicles; the duo tried to take the lives of eight deputies, but no law enforcement officers were injured, Chitwood said. As for the home, it was trashed. The girl had taken a baseball bat to furniture, toilets, and tub.
It is unclear how many shots the 14-year-old and 12-year-old allegedly fired. One of the AK-47 banana clips was emptied, said Chitwood. They were like “Bonnie and Clyde,” he added.
The alleged motive behind the juveniles’ actions is unclear. Deputies named them as Travis O’Brien, 12, and Nicole Jackson, 14. Authorities in Florida are allowed to release certain juvenile records, including a defendant’s name and photograph, if the crime the juvenile is suspected of committing would be a felony if it was alleged to have been committed by an adult. With that said, charges are pending. It is unclear if the two have attorneys.
The 12-year-old reportedly told police after the shootout that the 14-year-old girl had said “I’m gonna roll this down like GTA”—GTA being the video game Grand Theft Auto.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting at the request of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, FDLE public information officer Dana Kelly told Law&Crime. The FDLE will be conducting interviews, gathering evidence, and constructing a timeline of events on Wednesday, Kelly added.
[Screengrab via WFLA]
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