Boy, 13, pleads no contest to shooting at deputies

Posted at 1:41 PM, March 24, 2022 and last updated 5:11 PM, July 5, 2023

DELAND, Fla. (AP) — A 13-year-old Florida boy who fled a children’s home with a teenage girl and fired on deputies during a shootout last year has pleaded no contest to attempted murder.

The boy entered the plea Wednesday in juvenile court and was sentenced to a maximum-risk commitment program, where he will likely spend about three years. He will then be on conditional release, the juvenile equivalent of probation. The Associated Press is not naming him because he is a juvenile.

Volusia County Sheriff’s Deputy Don Maxwell, who hid behind a tree as he was fired upon, told the boy during the hearing that he forgives him.

“I challenge you to be better,” Maxwell said, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal. “I want to see you one day be the person … the person that I know you can be. You have a big heart. You have a long life ahead of you. And I will say a prayer for you every day.”

The girl, then 14, and the boy, then 12, fled the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home near Deltona on June 1 after she became angry that she was not allowed to go outside and catch lizards.

They broke into a house where they found an assault weapon, a shotgun and other weapons. They began firing on deputies who were searching for them.

Deputies finally shot and wounded the girl after she came out of the house and pointed a gun at them, authorities said. The girl remains charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and armed burglary of a dwelling.

Records released by the sheriff’s office show the girl was forcibly made to get a mental health evaluation several times in 2018 for kicking and biting her mother, throwing rocks at a supervisor at a shelter for youths in crisis, grabbing a knife during an argument with her brothers at the family’s home and smashing a living room mirror with a bat.

Also in 2018, she was charged with grand theft after stealing a dog worth $1,500, the records show. She was sent to teen court but failed to comply with the requirements.

In 2019, she again was forcibly made to get a mental health evaluation after she threatened to kill herself and another time when she said she had tried to overdose on prescription drugs because she wanted to die, according to the records.

In April, the teen set five fires in a wooded lot, the records show. She was sent to live with her mother, then placed in foster care, but she kept running away so she was sent to the juvenile home.

The boy previously had made threats to kill another student and throw a brick at a school administrator, according to the sheriff’s records.