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A 14-year-old girl ended up in a hospital shot and wounded by police after escaping from a Florida juvenile home with a 12-year-old boy and opening fire on the officers searching for them, the Volusia County sheriff said Wednesday.
“Officers did everything they could to de-escalate and nearly lost their lives with a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl. If not for their training and supervision, someone would have ended up dead,” Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a statement.
Chitwood, who said he had not seen anything like what happened in “35 years in law enforcement,” said the two juveniles had escaped from the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home on Tuesday and in their flight broke into a house where there were numerous weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle.
Alerted by a neighbor who heard a window glass break, police officers showed up at the Florida juvenile home and urged them to surrender, but Travis O’Brien, 12, and Nicole Jackson, 14, instead fired at them, according to the statement.
The first to fire was Jackson, and over the next 35 minutes, the children opened fire on four separate occasions as officers tried to convince them to lay down their weapons and surrender.
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Jackson then came out of the garage, pointed a shotgun twice at the agents and was shot by them, the statement said.
Within minutes O’Brien, who was in the garage armed with the AK-47, surrendered without resistance.
Jackson was transported to Central Florida Regional Hospital with life-threatening injuries and underwent surgery.
Following surgery, she was in stable condition and was transferred to another hospital for further treatment, according to the release.
O’Brien, who is diabetic and had not taken her medication with him when he escaped from the home, was also transported to the hospital, to treat his condition.
“I don’t know where we get the men and women who respond to these incidents, who do what they do and do it bravely, do it courageously, do it bravely and do it while trying to protect human life,” Chitwood said.
The sheriff noted that the officers endured “multiple rounds (of gunfire), until they had no choice but to return fire” from the children.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched an investigation into the incident as is customary in cases of officer-involved shootings.
The officers involved in this case will be temporarily placed on paid administrative leave.