Two foster children broke into a Volusia County home, Tuesday night, June 1, 2021, then used guns they found inside the residence — including an AK-47 — to repeatedly fire at deputies for about 30 minutes, according to sheriff’s officials.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said 12-year-old Travis O’Brien and 14-year-old Nicole Jackson face felony charges of attempted first-degree murder of law enforcement officers and armed burglary.
Deputies said they were in the area of 1050 Enterprise Osteen Road looking for the girl and boy, who has diabetes after they ran away from Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, a foster home.
“So the deputies in the Deltona area go out looking for this 12-year-old and this 14-year-old because the 12-year-old is insulin-dependent and the 12-year-old, if he doesn’t get his medication within four hours, it’s going to be a critical medical emergency,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said.
Deputies were near a trail when a resident approached and said glass was heard shattering at a nearby home. When deputies went to that residence, they noticed obvious signs of forced entry.
“And the amazing thing is they don’t do what I would have done. I would have walked in because I have an eyewitness telling me two juveniles just forced their way into the home,” Chitwood said. “They take a step back and contact the homeowner and say, ‘Should anybody have access to your home?’ as resources are pouring in to surround the property.”
The homeowner had recently left and said no one should be at the residence but that there was an AK-47, a pump shotgun, a handgun and 200 rounds of ammunition inside, records show.
Deputies said the children grabbed the guns and opened fire at deputies at about 8:30 p.m. They also used baseball bats to destroy furniture, toilets and a tub, according to authorities.
“At 8:28, one of my sergeants who was the first to arrive, Sgt. Donnie Maxwell takes fire multiple times, never returns fire. At 8:31, one of our units reports they’re being fired at by the 12- and the 14-year-old. At 8:33, another call comes out from another group of deputies surrounding the home saying that shots were fired. At 8:40, the 14-year-old emerges from the property and threatens to kill Sgt. Maxwell. At 8:54, the juvenile male, armed with an AK-47, opens fire on deputies,” Chitwood said.
Up to that point, deputies hadn’t returned fire, according to the sheriff. Instead, he said they tried to deescalate the situation and stepped into the line of fire to throw a cellphone into the house in hopes of ending things peacefully.
“The 14-year-old comes out of the garage with a pump shotgun, levels it at deputies, and despite warnings to drop it, she walked back into the garage, she comes back a second time, and that’s when deputies opened fire after taking multiple rounds,” Chitwood said.
The girl was shot in the chest and in the arm. According to Chitwood, she was fighting for her life, but she was later listed in stable condition.
“My deputies showed more restraint than I’m showing right now because I am furious that we could be burying somebody tonight. They took multiple multiple rounds… And I know for a fact one banana clip was empty from the AK-47. I know from the radio transmissions that a 12-year-old opened fire on us. I know that the 14-year-old opened fire on us with a shotgun and then walked out and threatened one of my sergeants and told him she was going to kill him. And we didn’t return fire. But after she came out of the garage, hey, there was nothing left that we could do. We had to do what we had to do,” Chitwood said.
Deputies immediately applied tourniquets and rendered aid while also turning their attention to the boy, who was still armed with the AK-47, according to Chitwood, who said O’Brien dropped the gun about 30 seconds later.
Neither the boy nor any deputies were injured.
“I could not be prouder of the way my deputies acted. They went above and beyond for what they did. And also, I know tonight I’ll drop down on my hands and knees and pray that I’m not going to somebody’s home, one of my deputies’ homes, and telling them that they were killed in a line of duty and killed by a 12-year-old a 14-year-old. This is unbelievable,” Chitwood said.
He described the Jackson and O’Brien as “Bonnie and Clyde” and said they shot at deputies from several vantage points in the home, including the pool deck, the bedroom, and from the garage. He also called the pair “evil.”
“Their conversation was they were going to kill my sergeant. They were coming out to kill cops. They were coming out to kill deputies, that’s the conversation,” Chitwood said.
The sheriff, at times, shouting, lambasted the juvenile justice system and the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home. He said Jackson has been in trouble with the law before, including when she stole puppies and set her prior facility in Flagler County on fire. After that, she was sent to Volusia County.
“The brainiacs in Tallahassee, they want to do this restorative justice stuff. They need to take a deep look and say, ‘Something’s not right here,’ because where the rubber meets the road, these kids are killers. They’re capable of killing. This juvenile citation (expletive) that you hear from these faith groups, they need to worry about what’s going on in the pulpit in their church, not worried about what’s going on on the (expletive) streets when you have 14-year-olds and 12-year-olds arming themselves,” Chitwood said.
He said facilities like FUMCH aren’t equipped to handle some of these children. He also noted that a security guard was beaten to death there earlier this year. He called the home “a complete failure,” adding that deputies have been called there 289 times in the past year.
The sheriff’s office plans to release a body-camera video of the shooting Wednesday afternoon.