DELTONA, Fla. — 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, initially was in critical condition, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a news conference late Tuesday. Following surgery, she was listed in stable condition and taken to another hospital for treatment, the sheriff's office said in a news release Wednesday morning.
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.
As the deputies provided medical aid to the girl, the boy, who was armed with the AK-47, surrendered, the release 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," the sheriff said. "If it wasn't for their training and their supervision... Somebody would have ended up dead."
Chitwood said the preliminary information shows the deputies took "multiple, multiple rounds – until they were left with no other choice but to return fire."
The sheriff's office released the names of the juveniles, but The Associated Press is not using the names because of their age.
At a news conference Wednesday morning in New Smyrna Beach, in the same county as the shooting, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he had been briefed on what happened.
"I think one of the kids said, 'Oh, I didn't want to kill the police officer. I just wanted to shoot at him.' That's despicable," DeSantis said.
Charges were pending against the juveniles, and the deputies were placed on administrative leave pending a review, officials said.
Chitwood 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.