An 11-year-old boy has been arrested on an attempted murder charge, accused of shooting two 13-year-olds after a Pop Warner football practice Monday night in Apopka, Florida.
According to Apopka police, the shooting occurred a little before 8:30 p.m. in the parking lot of a recreation center in Apopka, which is in the Orlando metropolitan area.
Officers arrived to find two boys with gunshot wounds. One was struck in the arm and the other in the torso, Apopka Police Chief Mike McKinley said in a news briefing Tuesday.
The boy struck in the arm was treated and released from a hospital Monday night, McKinley said, while the other boy underwent surgery and remained hospitalized Tuesday in stable condition.
The 11-year-old suspect was booked on a single count of second-degree attempted murder, McKinley confirmed.
The shooting stemmed from an argument in a practice that continued into the parking lot, where the suspect “had access to a firearm in his mother’s car,” McKinley said.
The suspect retrieved the gun from the parked vehicle and fired a single shot that struck both victims, McKinley said.
The gun was in an unlocked box in the vehicle, McKinley said, adding that police “would be pursuing” charges against the suspect’s parents.
According to an arrest report obtained by CBS News, witnesses said the suspect had been bullied by the victims before the shooting. An approximately 35-second security video from the parking lot released by authorities appeared to show one of the victims chasing the suspect to the car.
In the video, the suspect can be seen reaching into an SUV, producing a gun and opening fire on the victim who chased him. Several people who were standing nearby at the time scattered after the shot was fired.
“It is a crime to allow your children to have access to a firearm in an unsecured box,” McKinley said. “In this case, the firearm was in a box, it did not have a lock on it.”
After the shooting, the suspect put the gun in his mother’s SUV, where it was found by investigators.
The suspect’s mother was in the vehicle before and during the shooting, and she told detectives that the loaded gun was in a gun box under the front passenger seat, according to the arrest report. She told investigators her son was aware the gun was in the car, but that she had previously told him that the gun was for her protection and he was not to handle it, the report read.
“As a society we need to reflect on this,” MicKinley said. “We see this way too often, of juveniles, young juveniles, that have access to guns. But the more disturbing part is they believe that gun, that firearm, is a resolution to their problems.”
Gun violence among youth in the U.S. has been on the rise in recent years. According to Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the gun death rate among children under 18 rose 46% between 2019 and 2021, from 2.4 gun deaths per 100,000 minors, to 3.5 deaths per 100,000.