APOPKA, Fla. – An 11-year-old boy was arrested on an attempted murder charge in a shooting Monday night at a Pop Warner football practice in Apopka that left two other children injured, police said.
The shooting, which was captured on video, happened around 8:20 p.m. at the Northwest Recreation Complex. Apopka police said the video would be redacted and released later.
The boy was arrested on a charge of attempted second-degree murder in the shooting. Apopka Police Chief Mike McKinley said adults could face charges in the shooting because the boy was able to retrieve a firearm that was not secured.
The victims, both 13 years old, were struck by one bullet as they were running from the 11-year-old, McKinley said. One victim was shot in the arm and was released from the hospital, he said. The other was struck in the torso and underwent surgery, according to McKinley.
“It’s a sad day,” McKinley said at a Tuesday morning news conference.
The 11-year-old was booked in the Juvenile Assessment Center.
“When I interacted with him, he was very quiet, very shy, didn’t really say a whole lot when I was around,” McKinley said. “So I really didn’t discuss whether he was remorseful or not, but I know that he was very quiet. He looked very somber.”
According to McKinley, the boy and two others were involved in a physical fight, and the 11-year-old retrieved a gun from his mother’s vehicle. The boy then fired a shot, striking the victims, McKinley said.
According to a charging affidavit, some witnesses said the fight started over a bag of chips. Other witnesses said the 11-year-old was being bullied, the charging affidavit stated.
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Police took the suspected shooter was taken into custody shortly after the shooting. McKinley announced the boy’s charges Tuesday morning.
“It’s unbelievable that young kids, out here to play football and have a good time, would get into an altercation,” McKinley said. “Plenty of adults around. In my day, we would have run and talked to our parents about it and let our parents handle it.”
McKinley said he was shocked the boy was able to have access to a gun so quickly.
“Your firearm was in a box that didn’t have a lock on it,” said McKinley, adding that adults need to be more responsible. “We will be pursuing charges. For that crime, it is a second-degree misdemeanor. For all the parents out there, you have a firearm in your car or a firearm in your house, you have a responsibility to make sure that that firearm is secure and not accessible to your children because it only takes one bad decision and a split-second to ruin their lives.”
McKinley said the shooting is a reflection on society.
“Juveniles, young juveniles -- and they’re getting younger every day -- that have access to guns. But the more disturbing part is that they believe that that gun and firearm is a resolution to their problems and it’s not a resolution to anybody’s problems. They’re ruining their lives when they’re making these bad decisions to use a firearm to in a dispute that started as an argument over something.”
Pop Warner is a nonprofit group aimed at providing youth football, cheerleading and dance to local communities, according to the group’s website.
“We’ve been in contact with all the representatives of Pop Warner and discussing the incident with them to figure out how they can move forward,” McKinley said. “We have to remember that this was an isolated incident between three juveniles. The Northwest Recreation Center is a very safe place. There’s thousands of people out there every day, every night, every weekend. In the eight years that I’ve been a police chief, this is the first time we’ve got some kind of violent act that I can recall like this.”
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