A Texas juvenile has been charged with first-degree arson after police say he struck a 10-year-old boy with special needs with a gas canister, causing third-degree burns.
Kerville Police Chief David Knight said Kayden Culp, a 10-year-old with a slight lisp and hearing difficulties, was in a shed on Oct. 2 with three other boys when the group started a small fire, San Antonio Express-News reports.
Knight said the juvenile in question left the shed and returned with a gas canister, hoping to make the fire bigger. He inadvertently struck Kayden with the canister -- a fire burning inside it -- when throwing it aside.
Kayden caught fire, causing third degree burns on his arm, neck and chest, and has been fighting off infection and pneumonia in the hospital in the days following the incident, his Aunt Alike Richardson told the New York Post.
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"Based on the results of our preliminary investigation, it does not appear that this event was premeditated or that there was any intent to harm any of the juveniles present," Kerrville Fire Chief Danny Smith reported to KENS.
Officials also said the children “all knew each other” and were “all friendly with each other,” but Kayden's family members reported not being familiar with the other boys in the shed.
“He considered these guys his friends, but they would make fun of him and pick on him and tease him.” Kayden’s mother, Tristyn Hatchett, said.
"He gets beat up in Carver Park every time he goes up there. That's just the way it is.” His aunt Alike Richardson told the San Antonio Express-News, regarding Kayden’s special needs. “The kids are really mean."
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Smith said that "based on the criteria of the law," only one of the three other boys at the ignition site has been charged with arson. But Kayden’s family is hoping additional charges will be brought against the kids, telling Fox News they believe the incident was premeditated.
“We want to keep in mind that these are kids, and they do need help,” Kayden’s Aunt Tanya Kasper said of the perpetrators. “We just want the proper justice done.”
Kayden’s mother has updated Facebook since the incident with reports of Kayden’s recovery, and wrote asking for legal representation for her son.
Meanwhile, a YouCaring online fundraiser for Kayden has exceeded initial goals, raising over $225,000 for family expenses during Kayden's stay at the hospital.