VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A 12-year-old boy facing an attempted murder charge following his alleged involvement in a shootout with Volusia County deputies has a history of mental health issues dating back at least five years, records show.
News 6 initially decided to name and show pictures of the boy and name the girl due to the seriousness of the incident and the charges he is facing; however, after learning of his mental history, will not be showing the boy or naming him in future coverage.
Records from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office show the boy was hospitalized under the Baker Act three times in the span of 10 days when he was 7 years old.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said late Tuesday that the 12-year-old and a 14-year-old girl ran away from Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, a foster home, and broke into a house in Enterprise. No one was home at the time as the homeowner and his teenage daughters had recently left to go to Publix.
Authorities said the children found several guns, including a shotgun and an AK-47, inside the home and opened fire on deputies as they investigated a report of a break-in. Chitwood said his deputies “took fire” for about 30 minutes.
The 14-year-old was shot in the chest and in the arm. At last check, she was listed in critical but stable condition.
Deputies said the boy, armed with the AK-47, dropped the gun about 30 seconds after the girl was shot. According to the arrest affidavit, the boy told deputies he was trying to reload the AK-47 when he was surrounded and surrendered.
During a virtual court appearance Thursday morning, Judge Michael Orfinger ordered the 12-year-old, who’s represented by a public defender, be held in secure detention for 21 days or until the next court order. The boy did not speak during the first appearance.
Chitwood has described the children suspects at “Bonnie and Clyde.” He said the sheriff’s office had a history with both suspects, including the arrest of the girl, who was accused of stealing a dog in 2018.
On April 12, 2016, deputies responded to the home of the boy’s foster mother in Deltona. She told deputies he was attempting to hurt himself. Deputies observed the child was trying to bite himself, throw himself on the ground and at other objects, as well as try to shove a twig down his throat.
The then 7-year-old was taken to Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach for further evaluation.
Two days later, on April 14, 2016, records show the principal at Discovery Elementary in Deltona called deputies after the student ran off campus and his teacher and principal gave chase. The school workers tried to stop the boy from running into traffic. When the teacher chased after him, he hit her with a stick and bit her arm, records show.
When deputies arrived, the 7-year-old was in the principal’s office banging his head on the wall. He was taken to a hospital under the Baker Act.
On April 22, 2016, deputies again responded to the school to assist the Florida Department of Children and Families with a case involving an “out of control” 7-year-old in foster care.
The DCF caseworker told deputies the boy was being fostered and in the process of adoption by a Deltona woman but has mental health issues and had become too much for her to handle.
The boy had ran away from home, was banging his head on the floor and later threatened his foster mother, telling her “he could not wait until she went to sleep so he could slit her throat.”
The 7-year-old boy told deputies he was mad at his mother for making him listen and he hears “chattering and talking.” Sometimes he hears people telling him to do good and bad things, according to the report. He was told by one of those voices to get a stick and hit his teacher, according to the deputy’s report.
He said he did what the voices said in hopes they would stop.
The 7-year-old was taken to Halifax Medical Center for evaluation and a Baker Act form was completed, records show.
News 6 is still waiting to receive additional records from the sheriff’s office that could provide more insight into the girl’s history and mental health.
The arrest report from that 2018 dog theft shows the girl, then 11, was spotted on surveillance video playing with the dog outside a Deltona home. When the owner went to let the dog back in, the pooch was gone.
The dog’s owner said the girl removed the collar from the dog and walked off the property with the dog following behind.
People who read about the theft on Facebook recognized the girl, according to the report, saying the same girl had come to “their house and asked for animals, electronics and food.”
Deputies spoke with the girl’s mother, who believed her daughter had found the dog, according to the report. The dog was returned to its owner and the girl was arrested for grand theft.
News 6 has requested more information from DCF for both the 12 and 14-year-old suspects.
The facility from which both the 12 and 14-year-old escaped, the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, released a statement to the media Wednesday afternoon, saying the facility will stop accepting children that have been sent there through the emergency shelter care program. According to the arrest affidavit, the 12-year-old had been at the children’s home for 7 months and told deputies he regularly ran away.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza is reviewing the case and will determine the exact charges.
“We are in the process of conducting a thorough and comprehensive review of the cases involving the 12 and 14-year-old individuals accused of shooting at police officers. Once we have completed our review, we will disclose and discuss our charging decisions in more detail,” a statement from the Seventh Judicial Circuit State Attorney read.
This marks the second high-profile case for the state attorney’s office involving young suspects in recent weeks.
Last week, the state attorney charged 14-year-old Aiden Fucci with premeditated first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his 13-year-old classmate, Tristyn Bailey. The teen, who is charged as an adult, pleaded not guilty on Thursday during a court appearance.