ATLANTA - What happened to Central Florida law enforcement is an indication that officers can no longer be surprised should they encounter children who are not afraid to pull a weapon.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said his deputies were met with gunfire on multiple occasions as they pursued two juveniles, a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, who ran away from a children's group home.
The pair were eventually cornered inside a home and a long standoff followed. After several hours of attempting to negotiate with the two juveniles, Sheriff Chitwood said deputies returned fire in self-defense, wounding the girl.
Investigators said the juveniles became armed after breaking into a home and stealing three firearms: an AK-47, a pump shotgun, and a handgun. There were also approximately 200 rounds of ammunition, according to the sheriff.
In Atlanta in May, two officers working a private security detail were confronted by a dozen teens along Peachtree Road presumed to be the so-called "water boys," teens who sell bottles of water to motorists along the city's busy roadways, sometimes aggressively.
Two of those youngsters came up to the officers, who themselves were armed, and raised their shirts to show that they were carrying.
Security executive Chris Rich said one of the boys uttered something about the block being their turf, and that they would do whatever they want.
"It was a complete surprise," Rich said. "These boys showed no fear of confronting law enforcement."
Rich said his officers talked the boys down and there was no further incident.
Also last month, two boys, believed to be 14 and 15, approached two women last month in a parking lot in Downtown Atlanta. Both were armed.
"You may think a person looks young, innocent but that’s the thing now that they are using and the ‘baby faces’ you can let them fool you anymore," one of the victims said.
Neither of the women was injured in that incident.
"When I saw how nervous they were, it was like at any moment they could make a mistake. You could just see it in his eyes," the woman said.
The boys stole the keys to their car, took it, and fled the scene. They didn’t get very far as the car got a flat tire just blocks away.
A retired sheriff's lieutenant, Charles Rambo, called children with guns unfortunate. But he said police cannot let the age of the gun holder get in the way of what may be called for to protect that officer's life or the lives of others.
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