DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – Five teenagers were charged with aggravated battery Tuesday for dousing a 15-year-old with rubbing alcohol and setting him on fire because he stopped someone from stealing his father's bicycle, authorities said.
Michael Brewer was hospitalized with burns on more than three-quarters of his body after the attack at a Deerfield Beach apartment complex Monday.
The Broward County sheriff's office said in a news release that 15-year-olds Matthew Bent, Denver Jarvis, Steven Shelton and Jesus Mendez and 13-year-old Jeremy Jarvis were charged with aggravated battery. Mendez was also charged with attempted second-degree murder because authorities say he flicked the lighter.
The victim's brother-in-law, Danny Martinez, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that Brewer is in serious condition but doing OK.
He was burned on his torso and arms, sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal said. Family members said most of his hair, including his eyelashes, had also been burned off.
He refused to attend classes at Deerfield Beach Middle School on Monday because of the bicycle incident Sunday, authorities said.
Instead of going to school, Brewer went to the apartment complex to visit a friend. He told deputies that while he was sitting by the swimming pool, he was splashed with a flammable liquid and set ablaze.
A neighbor heard his screams for help and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, said Malissa Durkee, Brewer's sister. The teen then ripped off his shirt and jumped into the pool.
Brewer is expected to remain hospitalized for five months, Martinez said.
Bent and the Jarvis brothers were in court Tuesday and were ordered held in a juvenile detention center for 21 days. The Sun Sentinel reported that attorney Stephen Melnick said Jeremy Jarvis was "just there. He was not accused of actually doing it." Attorneys for the other two said they were "minimally involved."
The five were not charged as adults but Leljedal said the sheriff's office typically releases the names of anyone charged with a felony, regardless of age.