Volusia County, FL – Half of a pre-teen Bonnie and Clyde who fired a shotgun and an AK-47 at police after the pair ran away from a foster facility last summer pleaded no contest and was sentenced to a juvenile facility on Wednesday.
Travis O’Brien, now 13 years old, entered a “no contest” plea on March 23 to attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and burglary/criminal mischief charges, WESH reported.
O’Brien was sentenced in juvenile court to the maximum risk commitment program which could keep him incarcerated until he is 21 years old.
“He’s a little tiny little boy and he got into a big mess,” his defense attorney, Jeff Deen, told WESH.
“He wasn’t in control of his situation and he can’t understand some of the things that we understand,” Deen said.
The defense attorney praised the Volusia County sheriff’s deputies’ handling of the armed standoff that ended after deputies returned fire and shot O’Brien’s partner in crime, WESH reported.
He said the deputies sounded horrified in their bodycam videos at the thought of having to shoot the children who were firing on them.
“When you hear those deputies, just heart-wrenching over what is going to happen and how perfectly they handled it,” Deen told WESH.
One of the deputies who O’Brien fired on that day was in the courtroom for the hearing and told the pint-sized gunman that he forgave him.
“You have big heart, you have a long life ahead of you and know that I do forgive you, OK? I will say a prayer for you every day,” Volusia County Sheriff’s Sergeant Don Maxwell told O’Brien.
Deen said he thought the moment was critical, WESH reported.
“That deputy forgiving him is going to be a huge thing he will remember when he’s old enough to understand what just happened,” the defense attorney explained.
The Bonnie to O’Brien’s Clyde – now-15-year-old Nicole Jackson – was charged as an adult with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and multiple other felonies, WESH reported.
Jackson’s next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for April.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the incident began at about 5 p.m. on June 2, 2021, after the two juveniles were reported for having run away from the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, WKMG reported.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said their disappearance from the foster home had a heightened level of urgency because O’Brien is an insulin-dependent diabetic who requires injections every few hours.
“So the deputies in the Deltona area go out looking for this 12-year-old and this 14-year-old because the 12-year-old is insulin-dependent and the 12-year-old, if he doesn’t get his medication within four hours, it’s going to be a critical medical emergency,” Sheriff Chitwood explained.
Deputies were looking for the two juveniles in the 1000-block of Enterprise Osteen Road when they were approached by residents who said they had heard glass breaking at a home nearby, WKMG reported.
When deputies went to the home, they found obvious signs of forced entry.
Records showed that the homeowner told the deputies nobody should be in the home, WKMG reported.
The homeowner also warned law enforcement that there was an AK-47, a pump shotgun, and a handgun inside the home, along with 200 rounds of ammunition.
Authorities said the 12 year old and 14 year old used bats to destroy the inside of the home, including furniture, toilets, and a bathtub, WKMG reported.
Deputies said the kids opened fire on them at about 8:30 p.m.
“At 8:28, one of my sergeants who was the first to arrive, Sgt. Donnie Maxwell, takes fire multiple times, never returns fire,” Sheriff Chitwood said.
Bodycam video of the incident showed a sheriff’s sergeant hiding behind a tree in the backyard of the home when a gunshot is heard.
A supervisor advised all deputies to make sure they had “hard cover” over the radio and the sergeant asked them to “stand by,” the video showed.
“Appears the female has a long gun pointed toward me, I have to hold my cover,” the sergeant advised other units. “Stand by. It’s either a shot gun or a long gun. She has it in her hand. Juvenile male looks like he has something in his hand as well.”
“So that’s the back sliding glass door on my side which would be facing the three,” the sergeant reported, according to the bodycam.
The video showed a series of gunshots erupted from the home again.
“Shooting out the rear window toward my direction, stand by,” the sergeant said over the air. “It’s coming toward my way. Stand by. They’re trying to come out the back door.”
The sergeant advised other units on the scene that the kids had busted out the window in back and appeared to be reloading and readying themselves to come outside.
“Put the gun down now,” the sergeant yelled in the video.
His order was greeted with a loud “boom” as the juveniles opened fire on him again.
A supervisor on the radio ordered all units to “hold back, take our time” as Jackson and O’Brien continued to fire randomly at deputies.
The supervisor told all units to not engage with the juveniles and the sergeant confirmed that he would challenge them if they came out the back of the house, the video showed.
The video showed darkness fell over the house and yard as the incident progressed.
The juveniles continued to fire the shotgun, an AK-47, and a pistol at officers.
“At 8:31, one of our units reports they’re being fired at by the 12- and the 14-year-old. At 8:33, another call comes out from another group of deputies surrounding the home saying that shots were fired,” the sheriff told reporters. “At 8:40, the 14-year-old emerges from the property and threatens to kill Sgt. Maxwell. At 8:54, the juvenile male, armed with an AK-47, opens fire on deputies.”
He said deputies did not initially return fire and tried to deescalate the situation, WKMG reported.
Sheriff Chitwood said one deputy risked their life to step into the line of fire and throw a cell phone to the shooters in an attempt to bring about a peaceful resolution, but juveniles weren’t interested.
“The 14-year-old comes out of the garage with a pump shotgun, levels it at deputies and despite warnings to drop it, she walked back into the garage, she comes back a second time, and that’s when deputies opened fire after taking multiple rounds,” the sheriff said.
Jackson was shot in the chest and the arm, WKMG reported.
Bodycam video showed deputies raced in to disarm the girl and render aid as fast as they could after the 12 year old was taken into custody.
Deputies decided to transport the girl themselves rather than wait for an ambulance, the bodycam showed.
Jackson has since recovered from her injuries, WESH reported.