MIAMI – The mother of a 15-year-old doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire called the attack a nightmare on Thursday, but said her son was strong and would pull through despite the burns over much of his body.
Valerie Brewer told NBC's "Today" show and ABC's "Good Morning America" that her son, Michael Brewer, couldn't talk but was communicating with her by motioning with his hands.
"It's a complete nightmare," she said.
Michael Brewer was attacked at a Deerfield Beach apartment complex in South Florida on Monday after turning in another teen for trying to steal his father's bicycle, authorities said.
The teen was expected to remain hospitalized for several months and is at extremely high risk of infection and organ failure, but he is doing as well as can be expected, his doctor said. Valerie Brewer praised the staff at Jackson Memorial Ryder Trauma Center.
Dr. Nicholas Namias said the teen suffered burns on his torso and arms and most of his hair, but his face was not badly burned.
Brewer's troubles started when one of the teens gave him a video game and expected $40, said Broward County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jim Leljedal. Brewer never paid for the game, which authorities would not identify, so the other teen tried to steal a $500 custom bike that belonged to Brewer's father, Leljedal said.
Brewer refused to attend classes at his middle school Monday. His mother said he was "petrified" of going to school, and the teen instead went to an apartment complex to visit a friend. He told deputies that while he was sitting by the swimming pool, he was splashed with rubbing alcohol and set ablaze.
Five teenagers — 15-year-olds Matthew Bent, Denver Jarvis, Steven Shelton and Jesus Mendez and 13-year-old Jeremy Jarvis — were charged with aggravated battery in the attack. Mendez also was charged with attempted second-degree murder because authorities say he flicked the lighter.
Valerie Brewer said she knew the teens, but would not say more because it was "too heart wrenching" to talk about. She asked viewers to help stop childhood violence around the world.
"What they did to my son...we need to stop this now."