Volusia County

Immediate changes coming to children’s home where 2 left before firing at deputies

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Immediate changes are coming to the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, from which two children walked away before they broke into a home and shot at deputies during a lengthy shootout Tuesday night.

The president of the children’s home called the incident “shocking,” and said that in 25 years of working in child welfare, he has never seen anything like this.

Kitwana McTyer, president and CEO of the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, said as a result of Tuesday night’s shooting, they will be placing a moratorium on the emergency shelter care program for the next 30 days at the campus, and “will cease to provide the service until such a time if and when they feel they can do so in a safe manner.”

WATCH: Sheriff releases bodycam, aerial video of shootout between deputies, 2 armed children

The program currently serves three children.

McTyer said the level of children being sent to them at times is beyond the scope of their capabilities to provide the care required.

McTyer called the facility a child welfare facility, not a secure care facility.

READ: Sheriff: Boy, girl used AK-47, shotgun in shootout with deputies

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood shared his frustration with the home and with Florida’s juvenile justice system during a news conference Tuesday night.

“We’ve been there 289 times last year. An employee was punched in the face and killed not too long ago,” Chitwood said. “They’re not equipped to handle these kids.”

The only time the facility was found out of compliance was in 2012 with staffing issues. Those issues were corrected.

READ: Volusia County shooting highlights issues with Florida juvenile justice, foster care systems

The children’s home points out that while the sheriff says they were called there 289 times in 2020, not all calls have been emergency in nature. Some of those calls throughout the year include prior case follow-ups, written witness statements, Baker Acts or other legal-related inquiries.

Read the home’s full statement below:

Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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