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Florida children, 14 and 12, ran away, stole guns, fired on deputies in shootout, sheriff says

The two children allegedly ran away from a group home, broke into a home and used guns there to shoot at deputies. The 14-year-old was shot and wounded.

A 14-year-old Florida girl was at a hospital Wednesday recovering from gunshot wounds after she and another child broke into a home and found guns they used to shoot at deputies, officials said.

The children, 14 and 12, ran away from a group home in Volusia County on Tuesday before breaking into the home, the sheriff’s office said. The 12-year-old boy appeared in court on Thursday on a charge of armed burglary and attempted murder of law enforcement officers, according to NBC affiliate WESH2.

NBC News is not identifying either of the children in this case due to their age. The state's juvenile justice office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News Thursday.

Florida United Methodist Church, the home that fostered the children before they ran away, has placed a moratorium on its Emergency Shelter Care program for the next 30 days, according to President and CEO Kitwana McTyer.

McTyer said in a statement that the number of children being sent to the home for housing through the program is "beyond the scope of our capabilities to provide the care required."

"This situation is tragic and is the result of the system failing our children," McTyer said. "These children are in desperate need of care in the appropriate setting, which is a higher level of care than we provide."

Late Tuesday afternoon, about 5 p.m., the children were reported missing from the group home, according to Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood. The 12-year-old is diabetic and needed his medication, which he didn't have with him.

About two and a half hours later, he said, deputies were informed of a break-in at a home and arrived to find shattered windows. The deputies did not enter but contacted the homeowner, who said he was not home but that there were three guns and 200 rounds of ammunition inside.

The children discovered a handgun, shotgun, what was described as an AK-47 style rifle, and ammunition, which they are accused of using on deputies who surrounded the home, according to Chitwood.

"Nobody comes to work to shoot and kill anybody. We certainly don't come to work to get into gunfights with 12- and 14-year-olds," Chitwood said at a news conference.

Gunfire came from inside the home on several occasions over about 35 minutes, and the 14-year-old was shot after emerging from a garage and pointing the shotgun at deputies, the sheriff's office said.

By Wednesday, she was out of surgery and stable at a hospital, it said. No one else was injured in the incident, officials said.

Officials surrounded the house and announced their presence, the sheriff said, and around 8:30 p.m., the shooting started from inside the house toward the officers.

Chitwood praised the actions of his deputies and said they acted with restraint to try and de-escalate the situation. At one point, one threw a personal cell phone inside the house to try and communicate with the children.

"Nothing, nothing worked," Chitwood said.

Parts of body camera and other video released by the sheriff's office Wednesday recorded the sound of gunfire and showed a deputy taking cover behind a tree and telling others a long gun was being pointed at him.

At one point a radio transmission says, "Hey guys, just hold behind hard cover, let's not shoot these kids, man."

Aerial video shows the shooting as the girl is near the garage. Video from the ground shows the boy surrendering with his hands up. Deputies then approach the girl on the ground and call for and render medical aid.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate the shooting, which the sheriff's office said was standard.

The sheriff said "a minimum" of two dozen shots were fired at deputies, but that the FDLE investigation would shed more light on the exact details.

Eight deputies fired around 60 rounds during the incident, Chitwood said. All eight are on paid administrative leave, which the sheriff's office said was also standard following shootings.

An emailed message to the organization that runs the group home the kids ran away from was not immediately returned Wednesday night.