The name Michael Brewer may not mean much to you. It is a common enough name: Michael Brewer. But put it juxtaposed with “the Florida boy burned by bullies” and Michael Brewer’s name begins to gain in significance, even if one is unfamiliar with the name. And it will be that tragic incident, that of a boy burned by neighborhood bullies, that the name Michael Brewer will conjure up in one’s mind forever henceforth, because Michael Brewer was just a boy sitting by a pool in Deerfield Beach, Florida, when he was doused with alcohol and set on fire by five other boys Monday. As of Thursday, he fights for his life at University of Miami — Jackson Memorial Ryder Trauma Center, breathing on a ventilator, fighting off possible infection and organ failure due to the burns that cover nearly eighty percent of his body.
And it all began over a video game…
15-Year-Old Florida Boy Burned By Bullies
According to Crimesider and the Los Angeles Times, Broward County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jim Leljedal said that Michael Brewer borrowed $40 to buy a video game by Matthew Bent, 15, one of the teens that later attacked him, but never paid him back. Bent then allegedly attempted to steal Brewer’s father’s $500 custom bike and Michael Brewer turned him in to authorities. Bent was arrested as he was leaving with the bike, spent the night at a juvenile center, and was released Monday.
Michael Brewer stayed home from school Monday, fearful that Bent might seek revenge. His mother told officials that he had been petrified the entire day.
According to authorities, Matthew Bent organized what Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti called a “case of retaliation.” Lamberti said that the kids in the neighborhood were afraid of Bent. Bent, which authorities characterized as the local bully, and four other teens cornered Brewer at an apartment complex pool and called him a snitch. When he tried to leave, one doused him with alcohol as Bent yelled, “Pour it on him!”
Then Jesus Mendez, 15, set Michael Brewer on fire with the flick of a lighter.
Michael Brewer and a nearby bush caught on fire, witnesses told investigators. The teen ran 150 yards to the pool and jumped in. By that time, he had been burnt over much of his torso and his arms. Most of his hair was burned away, as was his eyebrows.
Other neighborhood teens gathered at the pool called 911 and helped with the investigation.
Police report that some of the teens later charged laughed while they were being questioned about the attack.
Sheriff Lamberti said it was “one of the most heinous crimes” he had ever seen.
Boy Burned By Bullies Suffered “Life-Changing Event”
Dr. Nicholas Namias, director of the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Burn Center, commented, “This is just an incredibly cruel thing, that anybody could have possibly done this to another human being.” Namias, who will oversee Brewer’s care, said that months of recovery are ahead for the teen. “This is just the beginning, if all goes well, of many months in the ICU and the hospital, many operations of skin grafting, many sessions of occupational therapy. This is a life-changing event for this young man.”
It is a life-changing event for the other five involved in the incident as well. All five — four of whom are 15 years old, one thirteen — have been charged with aggravated battery. Jesus Mendez faces an additional charge of attempted second-degree murder for setting Brewer on fire.
If Michael Brewer dies, they will all face charges of murder.
All five youths charged have criminal records. All are sealed by court order.
It is unclear why the five have not been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, since the attack was organized, according to investigators. Nor is it clear why the other four are not charged with accessory to the attempted second-degree murder being levied against Jesus Mendez. Given the ongoing investigation, those charges may be pending.
Attorneys Argue Clients Of Boys’ Participation When They Burned Michael Brewer “Minimal”
Attorneys for Matthew Bent, Denver and Jeremy Jarvis said their involvement was “minimal.” The lawyer for Jeremy Jarvis, 13, said that he was “just there.” The judge ordered the three to spend 21 days in juvenile detention.
Characterizing Matthew Bent’s involvement in the attack on Michael Brewer as “minimal” might appear ludicrous considering that he was the teen investigators believe organized the incident. Jesus Mendez being charged with attempted second-degree murder assumes premeditation of some kind. Saying that the youngest involved was “just there” might seem to square with the events that unfolded but negates the fact that the teens were organized to commit a crime against another individual.
The planned retaliatory attack may not have involved the act of premeditating murder and the investigation would seem to hinge around the rubbing alcohol that was thrown onto Michael Brewer. If the alcohol had been brought to the scene or was opportunistically acquired at the scene with the idea of using it to set Brewer on fire but not to kill him, then first degree murder or attempted first-degree murder does not apply. Under Florida law, a second-degree murder charge does not require proof of intent. It is further defined as an act committed against “another human-being by acting in a manner imminently dangerous with a depraved mind.” Mendez’ charge is qualified by its “attempt” status.
And it all began over a $40 video game…
Michael Brewer’s family has set up a foundation with Bank of America to take in donations to help with medical expenses. The foundation’s account number is 898035752616. Donations can be deposited at any Bank of America.