DEERFIELD BEACH - Five teens, angry at another boy over a $40 video game debt and a foiled bicycle theft, doused him with rubbing alcohol and set him afire this week, authorities say.
The suspects, ages 13 to 15, have been arrested.
The victim, Michael Brewer, 15, will remain in intensive care for months, his doctors said.
His face and hands were spared serious damage, said Dr. Nicholas Namias of the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Burn Center, but Brewer has second and third-degree burns on 65 percent of his body.
Namias said the boy is at extremely high risk for organ failure and infection, is heavily sedated and breathing with a ventilator.
The suspects all attended Deerfield Beach Middle School and live within a few miles of each other, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.
Matthew Bent, 15; Denver Colorado Jarvis, 15; his brother Jeremy Jarvis, 13; Steven Shelton, 15; and Jesus Mendez, 15, are charged with aggravated battery.
Mendez, who authorities say lit the fire, is also charged with attempted second-degree murder.
Some of the teens charged in the attack laughed when investigators confronted them about it, the Sheriff's Office said.
All were held in juvenile detention as prosecutors weighed whether to charge them as adults.
The incident happened Monday afternoon outside a Deerfield Beach apartment building.
Bent had given the victim a video game and expected him to pay $40 for it, said Broward County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jim Leljedal. Brewer never paid, so Bent tried over the weekend to steal a $500 custom bike that belonged to Brewer's father, Leljedal said.
Brewer called authorities and Bent was arrested. He was released Monday.
Brewer refused to attend school that day and instead went to a Deerfield Beach apartment complex to visit a friend. He told deputies that while he was sitting by the swimming pool, he was splashed with alcohol and set ablaze.
A neighbor heard his screams for help and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, said Brewer's sister, Malissa Durkee. The teen ripped off his shirt and jumped into the pool.
"In my 31 years, you always say, 'It's the most heinous crime I've seen,'" said Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti. "In this case, this one fits in that category."
Information from the Miami Herald, the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale and Associated Press was used in this report.