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Boy Burned by Bullies, Mother Says Michael Brewer Staying Strong

(WFOR)
Michael Brewer, 15, of Deerfield Beach, Fla., was intentionally set on fire.

MIAMI (CBS/AP) "It's a complete nightmare."

That's from Valerie Brewer, whose 15-year-old son, Michael Brewer was doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire after he turned in another teen for trying to steal his father's bicycle.

Brewer said her son was strong and would pull through despite the burns over much of his body, and in interviews this week, said that Michael couldn't talk but was communicating with her by motioning with his hands.

Michael Brewer was attacked at a Deerfield Beach apartment complex in South Florida on Monday, 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. Michael Brewer was heavily sedated and breathing with a ventilator. Namias said he is doing as well as can be expected but is not "out of the woods yet."

(CBS)
Photo: Fifteen year-old Michael Brewer is suffering from burns on three-quarters of his body.

Michael 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.

Michael 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.

A neighbor heard his screams for help and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, said his sister, Malissa Durkee. The teen ripped off his shirt and jumped into the pool, but he was still burned on over 65 percent of his body.

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."

Bent and the Jarvis brothers were in court Tuesday and were ordered held in a juvenile detention center for 21 days. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that attorney Stephen Melnick said Jeremy Jarvis was "just there. He was not accused of actually doing it." Attorneys for two others said they were "minimally involved."

The five were not charged as adults but a sheriff's office spokesman said it typically releases the names of anyone charged with a felony, regardless of age.