Sgt. Donnie Maxwell said he took cover behind a large oak tree while taking fire from a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl.
“It continued, it seemed like it was forever,” Maxwell said.
After escaping from a foster home, according to deputies, the boy and girl broke into a house in Deltona and armed themselves with an AK-47, a pump-action shotgun and a pistol. Deputies said the two also had 200 rounds of ammunition.
Maxwell was the only Volusia County deputy who could see the boy and girl the entire time during the standoff. Maxwell was the closest deputy to the house, shielding himself behind the tree. He said he watched the boy and girl position themselves while armed.
“From my tactical experience, I was amazed. The young lady took the position at the door with the shotgun, and it was to the point it looked like she was waiting for our deputies to come in,” Maxwell said. “The juvenile male was behind her, and he had a pistol in his hand.”
Maxwell said he gave verbal commands for the two to drop the weapons and leave the house, but they instead went on a rampage inside the home. Deputies said that the children used baseball bats to destroy furniture, toilets and a bathtub, and the children fired at deputies for about 30 minutes.
Maxwell said he had multiple opportunities to fire at the two children but instead attempted to de-escalate the situation.
“This just shocked me because it’s kind of hard to believe that children are inside of a house and you’re hearing gunfire come out,” Maxwell said.
The sergeant said he saw the girl with a pump-action shotgun wrapped around her shoulder make her way to the garage of the house. When She exited the garage, deputies said, they had no other choice but to return fire.
The 12-year-old wasn’t hurt, but the 14-year-old was struck by gunfire. Deputies said they chose to transport her to get medical help in their vehicle because of the seriousness of her injuries. She survived and has since written the responding deputies an apology letter. It’s a night they said they’ll never forget.
“That night, it changed me. It changed every single deputy that was out there,” Maxwell said. “It changed, I believe, our command staff to be able to see that law enforcement is changed, it’s not the same as it was when I was a little boy.”
The children both face attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, burglary of a dwelling and felony criminal mischief charges.
The deputies were cleared last month of any wrongdoing by the State Attorneys Office for the 7th Judicial Circuit.
WKMG digital journalist Brenda Argueta contributed to this report.