Dad Defends 14-Year-Old Daughter Who Ran Away From Group Home and Allegedly Shot at Cops

Steve Jackson spoke exclusively to Inside Edition.

The shocking shootout involving two children who ran away from a Florida children’s group home outside Orlando has put the spotlight on just how few resources there are for troubled youths. 

The 12-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl who cops say broke into a home and used guns they found to shoot at deputies had already had pretty significant problems, but now they're facing criminal charges.

Inside Edition spoke exclusively with the girl’s father, Steve Jackson, who said he was in disbelief when he learned that his daughter was the suspect in the shootout, along with a 12-year-old boy.

“I didn’t think a little 14-year-old girl would be able to be capable of firing a shotgun,” Jackson said.

The children were reported missing from their group home Tuesday shortly before 5 p.m., according to a press release from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office. Police were called to the facility 289 times last year alone to deal with various problems. Around 7:30 p.m., a passerby reported hearing glass break at a home in the Enterprise neighborhood.

“As they approached the house, deputies saw two figures in the house. They contacted the homeowner, who told them no one should be home, and that there was a handgun, a shotgun and an AK-47 inside, along with a large amount of ammunition,” the statement said.

The 14-year-old was shot and wounded after she allegedly came out of the garage and pointed a shotgun at deputies, according to authorities. Her father says she was shot in the neck. The 12-year-old boy came out 30 seconds later with his hands raised, authorities said. He was charged Thursday with attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer.

“That 14-year-old, over the last year stole a bunch of puppies, gets put into a halfway house in Flagler County, burns the home down. So what do they do? They send her to Volusia County,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said at a press conference.

“My daughter ain't no thug,” her father said. “She ain't no gangster, nothing like that. She stole puppies. What kind of gangster steals a puppy?”

According to reports, just two months ago, the 14-year-old was charged with setting six bushfires with a cigarette lighter. 

“I know she has done some things in her past. She’s also changed medications. She has mental disorders that are diagnosed,” the girl's father said. 

Jackson said he realizes the cops acted with remarkable restraint.

“I love you. I wish I could be there next to you. I’m glad you woke up. I’m glad you’re safe,” Steve Jackson said about his daughter, who remains in the hospital.

The facility where the children had been housed said the boy and girl were in desperate need of a higher level of care than they could provide.

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