A 13-year-old boy has been arrested for a November shooting that sent a teenage girl to the hospital with injuries.
DeLand police announced Monday that the 13-year-old DeLand boy was arrested in a Nov. 17 shooting that took place on the back porch of a Sherwood Drive home in the Candlelight Oaks neighborhood of DeLand.
The shooting left the 14-year-old victim with non-life-threatening injuries. Detectives determined the shot passed through her left wrist and entered her lower abdomen, and she was treated at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando.
Those involved are not being named, in line with The Beacon’s policy of not naming juvenile suspects unless they are charged as adults, and not naming victims of violent crime in general.
The incident apparently took place while the victim and two other female friends were sitting on the home’s back porch. Initially, witnesses told investigators that they believed “someone had fired a shot at them from the woods to the rear of the residence,” the incident report said.
A DeLand police detective talked with one of the girls who had been on the porch with the victim, and told her the evidence didn’t line up with that story. The girl said the three had walked to a nearby convenience store earlier in the evening, and that while they were walking, an unknown male in his front yard made lewd comments to them.
The witness told the detective that when they told the 13-year-old suspect the story about the lewd comments, he “produced a handgun and said, ‘nah, I love y’all too much.’ [The witness] said she interpreted this as him saying he was going to protect them from the male they had encountered earlier in the evening.”
While pulling the gun out, it went off, striking the victim, the witness said.
Witnesses said the 13-year-old boy apologized before leaving the house. The victim later told police that she and others initially said the shot came from the woods in an effort to protect him.
Detectives later found a silver-and-brown 9 mm handgun in a dining-room cabinet just inside the house where the victim was shot, but it’s unclear if it was the weapon used in the incident.
The firearm is currently with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who are trying to compare the bullet casings with the gun to determine if it was indeed the one used in the incident, city spokesman Chris Graham said.
The 13-year-old suspect later turned himself in to the Department of Juvenile Justice, sometime near the end of November, Graham said, although he added that he only became aware of that fact recently and felt the need to inform the public about it.
“Hopefully, this can be a learning experience for all involved,” Graham said.
The 13-year-old has been charged with one felony count of carrying a concealed firearm, and one misdemeanor count each of discharging a firearm in public and possession of a firearm by a minor.
In a news release from the DeLand Police Department, Chief Jason Umberger praised the girls for eventually telling the truth about the incident, and said the case was a good example of the community working together to solve a crime.
“We’re here to help our residents and keep them safe,” Umberger was quoted as saying. “If you witness a crime, it is always right to tell the truth immediately to police. Lying or misleading the police about a criminal investigation could result in a witness potentially being arrested.”
“Fortunately — we did eventually get cooperation from some of the people involved — and were able to identify the person responsible and charge him with the appropriate crimes,” Umberger continued. “Now it is the responsibility of the Department of Juvenile Justice and ultimately the courts to hold him accountable.”