Five juveniles arrested for setting teen on fire
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Police have announced the arrest of five juveniles for setting a teen on fire.
The Broward County Sheriff himself spoke out about this horrendous case involving boys between the ages of 13 and 15 years of age at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. "Unfortunately, it just doesn't reflect well on our community or our society," said Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti.
Detectives learned Michael Brewer, 15, had skipped class from Deerfield Middle School Monday and went to the Lime Tree Apartments to visit a friend. At the complex, the five suspects approached Brewer with a jar of rubbing alcohol and a lighter. When he tried to walk away, police said, 15-year-old Denver Jarvis splashed him with alcohol and Jesus Mendez, also 15, used a lighter to set him ablaze.
Police said Brewer jumped into a nearby pool to extinguish the flames and left his burned clothes on the lawn. Police found the jar, which had held the alcohol, and a lighter nearby.
The suspects, who also include Steven Shelton and Matthew Bent, both 15, and 13-year-old Jeremy Jarvis all face charges of aggravated battery. Mendez, who police said actually flicked the lighter, faces charges of attempted second degree murder.
"It was horrific," said Broward Sheriff's Office Sgt. Steve Feeley, at the press conference. "This is one of the more horrific crimes that I have been associated with since I've been here at BSO. It's just horrible that these kids would do this to our victim, and the victim is going to carry life-long scars, if he survives."
Police had announced the arrest of three teens earlier. They now said they have all who share responsibility for the attack that left Brewer at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center with second degree burns over up to 80 percent of his body. All those charged appeared in court Tuesday afternoon.
Brewer's family had told police they think these children were motivated by vengeance. Brewer's father said Bent, who would later participate in the attack, tried to steal his bicycle Sunday night. "Off my front porch-- walked right on to my front porch," recalled Michael Brewer Sr. on the day of the attack. "He told the cops that he was knocking on the door to get Michael, but he wasn't."
Brewer's family called police. "We pressed charges and had the kid arrested," said Valerie Brewer, the victim's mother. "I really think this was a retaliation for having this child arrested."
Bent said he wanted to take the bike as re-payment for $40 Bent said Brewer had owed him.
Bent's family would not talk about the accusations the boy faces, but Gordon Weekes, the defense attorney, said, "Although it is a very serious case and a very serious set circumstances, Mr. Bent's involvement seems to be minimal at this point."
Lamberti said this conflict over petty cash will now leave all involved with serious consequences. "Forty dollars is not worth what the victim is going to experience for the rest of his life or what the kid himself is going to be facing for the rest of his life," the sheriff said, "not over $40. It's not worth it. That's the message we've got to tell them: Walk away."
It still remains unknown whether or not the five suspects will face adult charges.
Meanwhile, Brewer remains at Jackson Memorial Hospital's burn unit, receiving treatment for his burns, and doctors said his road to recovery will be a long one.
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