DEERFIELD BEACH—According to Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Feeley, the feud that put 15-year-old Michael Brewer in the hospital with severe burns started when the teen borrowed $40 from Matthew Bent to buy a video game.
He never paid him back.
Brewer called police, and Bent was arrested as he tried to run off with the bike.
Bent, released from the juvenile center Monday morning, didn't go to class at Deerfield Beach Middle School, that day.
Brewer also stayed home, fearing an encounter with Bent.
Brewer, a seventh-grader, has been kept back at least two grades, family members said.
About 3 p.m., Bent met up with four friends: Steven Shelton, Denver Colorado Jarvis and his 13-year-old brother Jeremy, and Jesus Mendez.
All are from Pompano Beach except Shelton, 15, who lives in Deerfield Beach.
The neighborhood shared by the teens straddles the two cities.
Near a wall by the Lime Tree Apartments in the 400 block of Southeast 13th Court, the boys found a bottle of rubbing alcohol, police said.
They entered the complex's pool area and by chance came upon Brewer, who was waiting for a friend.
Brewer tried to walk away. Deputies said the group surrounded him.
"Snitch, snitch!" taunted Bent, who ordered Denver Jarvis, 15, to pour the alcohol on Brewer, according to investigators.
Mendez, 15, took a lighter from his pocket and flicked it at the drenched teen.
Brewer and a bush nearby caught fire instantly. Covered in flames, Brewer ran 150 yards to the pool and jumped in. When a rescue team arrived he was sitting in a pool chair.
"This is one of the most heinous crimes I've ever seen," Sheriff Al Lamberti said.
Nearby teens who witnessed the attack reported it to police.
"The kids from the neighborhood, they were scared of this kid Bent," Lamberti said.
Bent and the Jarvis brothers were arrested Monday night.
Bent and Denver Jarvis laughed under questioning, Feeley said.
Only Mendez, arrested along with Shelton on Tuesday, showed remorse, the deputy said.
Should Brewer die, all five could face murder charges, Lamberti said. All have previous juvenile records, which are sealed.
Lawyers for the younger Jarvis and for Bent said their clients were "minimally involved" in the attack.