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Teen Charged With Attempted Murder In Burn Attack

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CBS4: One of two additional teens charged. Five teens now face charges in torching of Michael Brewer. Attempted murder charges were filed against a 15-year-old boy Tuesday afternoon and another teen was charged with aggravated battery, bringing to five the number of teens charged with intentionally setting a boy on fire in an argument that started over a video game.

15-year-old Jesus Mendez was charged with attempted second degree murder Tuesday afternoon, while the four other teens now face charges of aggravated battery. CBS4 is not identifying those teens at this time. All five have been charged as juveniles.

The teens have been accused of dousing 15-year-old Michael Brewer with rubbing alcohol Monday afternoon and setting him on fire as he sat by the pool at the Lime Tree Village apartments in Deerfield Beach.

"One of the more horrific crimes I have been associated with since I've been with BSO. It's just a horrible, horrible case," said Sgt. Steve Feeley of the Broward Sheriff's Office. "It doesn't reflect very well on our community or our society," said BSO Sheriff Al Lamberti.

Four of the suspects are 15, and the fifth is a 13-year-old boy. All are accused of setting Brewer on fire.

According to BSO, one of the juvenile suspects, the alleged ringleader, was owed money by Brewer for a video game. The ringleader allegedly stole Brewer's father's bike as payment, but was caught on Sunday.

Officers arrested the ringleader on Sunday, but he was later released into his parent's custody later. Monday, the five suspects allegedly surrounded Brewer when the ringleader said, "pour it on him, pour it on him," according to Sgt. Feeley.

One of the suspects allegedly poured alcohol on Brewer, and then Mendez allegedly used a lighter to set Brewer on fire, according to the BSO. The lighter was found by Broward Sheriff's Deputies at the scene of the crime.

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.

Neighbor Jennifer Nielsen, a former lifeguard, heard Michael's screams and ran outside to help. She said she comforted Michael as he screamed in agony.

"I was like who did this to you? What happened?" she said. "He said someone threw something on me. He couldn't even say liquid. He said someone threw something on me, so it was a surprise attack."

Brewer's mother, Valerie, told CBS4's Carey Codd, "We just don't understand why anyone would do this."

Nielsen said Brewer's top layer of skin was peeling off; his eyebrows were gone as was the hair on the right side of his head. Family members said most of his hair, including his eyelashes, had been burned off.

"I'm still shaken up," Neilsen said. "But I'm happy I was there for that child. I just want that child to be ok."

Brewer was airlifted to Broward General Medical Center and then moved to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. The pain of the burns was so intense that he was placed on a medically-induced coma.

Monday night, the suspects were in custody and at least two of them were laughing about the burning of Brewer. Mendez showed remorse for the crime, according to Sgt. Feeley. BSO deputies were able to find the suspects with the help of witnesses, who said they were afraid of the ringleader.

According to BSO, all five of the suspects have had run-ins with the law before. Some of the suspects have reportedly confessed to the crime, according to Sgt. Feeley.

"The victim will be in hospital for five months. He has second degree burns over 80 percent of body. He's in for a long, long recovery," said Sheriff Lamberti. "The violence in our schools need to stop. I don't know what the answer is. As parents and leaders we need to do a better job teaching our kids right from wrong."

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12 comments so far | Post a comment now
Stacey-Ann October 14, 2009, 7:42 AM

this is horrific!!!!!..and where were the parents once again!?…not saying its their fault but where the heck were they?

Anonymous October 14, 2009, 9:18 AM

@Stacey-Ann - I agree its horriffic, but how many parents do you know that watch thier 15 year old kids 24/7?

Anonymous October 14, 2009, 3:30 PM

I am absolutely disgusted. Even though those teens are only 15 and 13, they should be put in jail for a long, long time. What a horrible thing to do to another living being!

TA October 15, 2009, 6:26 AM

People are always saying where were the parents where were the parents. Give me a break. These are teenagers, it’s the middle of the day. Really? You can go anywhere. Teenagers are everywhere. I don’t see their parents attached to them at the hip. Those kids knew what they were doing. This is NOT the parents fault.

ExFlorida October 15, 2009, 6:30 AM

Horrible indeed. Very, very sad. I’ll be praying for Michael Brewer. Glad I left Florida and Broward county a long time ago.

Anonymous October 15, 2009, 7:04 AM

How many parents do you know watch their kids at all. Parents today think that the world is the same place they grew up in but this sure isnt Mayberry. Its in the music its in the movies its in the video games, take a little responsibility for your spawn just because you shed them from your body doesnt mean thats the end of it. As a 23 YO schoolyard fights werent the same, you didnt know who was going to have a gun how much crap did the police pull out of the Columbine kids houses, its not like the parents wouldnt have found the same thing. Go back to takin off the belt and punishing your kids, but that would mean taking a little initiative in your own life.

Jaki October 15, 2009, 9:47 AM

This was a horrific incident. All Those boys should be charged as adults. they knew what they were doing!!! I agree the parents are not to be held responsible for the actions of this insane action caused by their kids and I will have all the families, as well as the victim’s, in my prayers.

kaya October 16, 2009, 2:13 AM

He will be in hospital for 5 months, and in recovery for the rest of his life.


marsha October 20, 2009, 5:36 PM

You people need to think about this, if those boys are not put away for a verrrrrrrrry long time, they will be able to get a drivers license next year..What will they do about road rage!!!!

rick October 24, 2009, 11:13 AM

the reason things like happen, even though commited by children or teens, is that there is no deterrent. kids, especially teens, are not afraid of the law,they’re not afraid of cops, parents jail or prison. ‘doing time’ is a form of status among young people. they brag about it. why would they be afraid of jail or prison; they get 3 hots and a cot. laws need to be changed to allow the courts to sentence anyone who commits such a horrific crime to punishments such as strapping, whipping or caning. in crimes where a person is beaten to death, like the youth in chicago,the law should allow hanging. nothing else is a deterrent to todays thug culture youth.either we act decisively to change the laws or we continue to see innocent kids murdered by other kids.

Richard November 6, 2009, 12:42 PM

The wicked little fiends who committed the unspeakable act of setting another child on fire deserve to be removed permanently from the society of civilized men and women. They should be condemned to life sentences without any possibility of parole, the sentences to be served at hard labor in a prison run just as was Devil’s Island, under the close and constant supervision of guards such as a place named “Devil’s Island” would be expected to have. I wonder if we can buy that place from Suriname (formerly French Guiana) and open it up again. If present trends continue, it appears that we will certainly have enough business for it.

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