A 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl are currently being held at a secure detention facility after they engaged in a shootout with police who were searching for them after they ran away from a foster care facility.
The children were said to have run away from the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home on Tuesday and then broke into a house where they found guns and ammunition. The two then began firing on officers as they attempted to bring them into custody.
The shootout eventually ended when authorities shot and injured the teen girl. She was then rushed to an area hospital where she is said to be in critical but stable condition.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a press conference that while he has not experienced anything to this extent involving children, this incident highlights a broader issue going on with foster facilities:
“We are arresting this kids in the state of Florida for violent crimes and the Department of Juvenile Justice wants to put them in places that can’t handle them,” Chitwood said Wednesday. “People need to face facts … Instead of mollycoddling these kids, and pat Johnny on his head, and hug Jane and tell her everything is going to be OK, we have an awful lot of violent criminals who are teenagers.”
Reports state that police received over 300 calls from the facility last year and have so far made 89 visits to the juvenile facility this year including one that eventually resulted in the death of a worker at the hands of a teen who was staying at the home.
The home has since released a statement regarding the incident:
“The level of children who are being sent to us through Emergency Shelter Care at times is beyond the scope of our capabilities to provide the care required and limits who we can serve as part of our mission,” Kitwana McTyer, president and CEO of the home, said in the statement.
This incident is “the result of the system failing our children.” She said these children “are in desperate need of care in the appropriate setting, which is a higher level of care than we provide.”
The children are now being held at a secure facility for 21 days until their court hearing.
They are facing attempted first degree murder of a law enforcement officer and armed burglary of a dwelling charges.