On October 12, 2009, a group of teenaged classmates of Michael Brewer, 15, viciously attacked him, dousing him with rubbing alcohol and setting his body ablaze. Brewer suffered second- and third-degree burns over two-thirds of his body. He survived the attack by jumping into a nearby swimming pool. His screams were captured on a 911 tape. All of the boys attended Deerfield Beach Middle School in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Initially, doctors proclaimed that it would be amazing if Brewer ever emerged from a medically induced coma. For a long time, he was unable to speak and had to use a ventilator to breathe. Miraculously, he was out of the hospital and headed back to school–albeit a different one–just six months after the attack.
The attack came after Brewer had called 911 to report that one of the boys, Matthew Bent, 15, had tried to steal a $500 bicycle. Allegedly, Bent had given Brewer a $40 video game and wanted him to pay for it. Brewer did not pay. Police claim the boys called Brewer “a snitch.” Reportedly, Jesus Mendez, age 16, actually set Brewer on fire with a lighter. Denver and Jeremy Jarvis were once friends with Brewer; Denver Jarvis is alleged to have thrown the rubbing alcohol on Brewer. He, Bent, and Mendez have been charged with attempted second-degree murder. All have pleaded not guilty. Jeremy Jarvis, age 13, and Steven Shelton, age 16, are accused of being in the group that surrounded Brewer during the attack at the Limetree Village Apartment Complex. Jeremy Jarvis has expressed remorse for the incident, claiming that it was unplanned and that Brewer was actually a good friend.
Brewer spoke out publicly in April 2010, expressing his eagerness to return to school, but not to Deerfield Beach Middle School, which he called “terrible.” While Brewer was still recovering, a classmate, Josie Lou Ratley, was attacked by 15-year-old classmate Wayne Treacey, allegedly over some text messages the two had exchanged. Brewer had visited Ratley in the hospital, encouraging her to think positively so that she, too, could recover. He has scars from the burns but said he is not in pain.
- Celizic, M. (2010, April 20). Florida teen set on fire: “This school is terrible.” MSNBC. Retrieved from http://www.today.com/id/36661414/ns/today-today_people/#.UZyRidgudyU
- Miller, C. (2010, April 21). Michael Brewer, boy set on fire, tells happy back-to-school story. Crimesider. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20002968-504083.html
- Netter, S., & Clarke, S. (2009, November 25). Michael Brewer talks to police for first time after burn attack; suspect’s brother expresses sympathy. Good Morning America. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/michael-brewer-talks-police-burn-attack/story?id=9167108&page=1
- Olmeda, R. (2009, November 4). Jarvis family apologizes for fiery attack against Deerfield Beach teen. South Florida Sun Sentinel. Retrieved from http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/deerfield/fl-burn-suspect-jarvis-parents-bn110409,0,1968462.story
- Olmeda, R. (2009, November 25). Jeremy Jarvis says attack on Brewer not planned. Palm Beach Post. Retrieved from http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/crime-law/jeremy-jarvis-says-attack-on-michael-brewer-not-pl/nLk5g/
- Phillips, R. (2009, November 3). Set afire, teen now struggles for survival. CNN. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/11/02/teen.burned.recovery/index.html