Sheriff Chitwood says DJJ is putting dangerous kids in neighborhood

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood is fed up with the Department of Juvenile Justice after he said two kids – a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl – who ran away from the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home (FUMCH) fired more than 2,000 shots at his deputies.  It happened on Tuesday night after Chitwood said the children broke into a house and stole weapons. 

"The Department of Juvenile Justice is consistently is sending kids that need to be in secure facilities into our communities," Sheriff Chitwood said during a news conference on Wednesday. 

According to the sheriff, the boy said to be involved in this incident has been in foster care since 2016, had never been arrested before but got in trouble at school twice last year for threatening violence.  

WATCH: Sheriff says body camera video shows shootout between juveniles, Florida deputies

Sheriff Chitwood told reporters that the girl said to be involved in this incident, accused of shooting at deputies, had been arrested in the past for stealing puppies and charged with five felonies for lighting a wooded area on fire that was near several homes.  According to the sheriff, the girl’s mother couldn’t handle her, so she was placed in foster care, had runway from foster care several times, and had only been in the Emergency Shelter at FUMCH for 48 hours before Tuesday’s arrest. 

"We are arresting kids in the state of Florida for violent crimes and the Department of Juvenile Justice wants to put them in places that cannot handle them," Sheriff Chitwood said.  "The Juvenile Justice system is broke. People need to face facts. Instead of listening to faith groups that want to mollycoddle and pet Johnny on the head and hug Jane and tell her everything is going to be ok, we have an awful lot of violent criminals that are teenagers."

The President of Florida United Methodist Children’s home announced they’re putting a 30-day moratorium on their Emergency Shelter Care Program.  In April, another teen was arrested after attacking a security officer on the campus who later died from his injuries.  She said the two kids arrested Tuesday were assigned to the Emergency Shelter Care program.

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"At this juncture, the level of children who are being sent to us through the Emergency Shelter care at times is beyond the scope of our capabilities to provide the care required and limits who we can serve as part of our mission," said Kitwana McTyer, President and CEO of Florida United Methodist Children’s Home.  "This situation is tragic and is the result of the system failing our children."

The spokesperson for the Department of Juvenile Justice did not return requests from FOX 35 News for a response to Sheriff Chitwood’s comments.

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