October 6, 2016
A fire that severely burned a special needs child in Kerrville was apparently not intentionally set by another boy, as authorities initially believed, the Kerrville police chief said Thursday.
Kayden Culp, 10, has been in a drug-induced coma at University Hospital in Kerrville with second- and third-degree burns since the incident Sunday, October 2. He has burns over 20 percent of his body from his ears to his belly button, and his organs are failing, according to a YouCaring page set up by the boy’s family to cover his health care expenses.
On Wednesday, authorities arrested another boy and charged him with arson.
One unidentified child has been charged with arson following the incident and is “responsible for causing the victim’s severe burns,” according to a statement from the local fire marshal.
He is one of three boys — ages 9, 10 and 11 — who were taken into custody in the grisly attack, reported Fox.
As of Thursday afternoon, Kayden’s family had raised over six times their $10,000 goal.
Kayden’s family has maintained that Kayden was the victim of bullying. He has a hearing impairment and speaks with a lisp, and his parents told the San Antonio Express-News and other news outlets that he has borne the brunt of jokes in the past.
“They make fun of him. … That’s just the way it is. The kids are really mean,” his aunt Alike Richardson told the Express-News on Wednesday.
But at a news conference on Thursday police and fire officials said that bullying might not be to blame here. Police Chief David Knight said results of an investigation suggest that Kayden was in a shed on a vacant lot with three other boys and they started a fire. One of the boys poured gas on the flames to make them grow, causing a cascading flash fire that burned Kayden, he said.
Fire Chief Dannie Smith said: “It does not appear that this event was premeditated or that there was any intent to harm any of the juveniles present.”
Afterward, a family member of the arrested juvenile told KSAT-TVthat the fire was a regrettable accident.
“We know that these kids, like I said before, are all friends,” she said. “He didn’t deliberately do this and go over there and throw this gasoline on top of him. … They were messing with it, so somebody went this way, and it splashed everywhere.”
The heartbroken family believes the victim — who exhibits autistic tendencies and has trouble speaking and hearing — was intentionally targeted.
Tristyn Hatchett, 29, Kayden’s mother, told the Express-News on Wednesday that a relative of one of the three other boys told her that one of them had poured gasoline on Kayden and another had ignited it.
One alleged attacker “had issues being destructive and disruptive,” Kayden’s aunt Tanya Kasper told the station.
“His mom even made the comment that she wasn’t able to handle him,” Kasper added.
“The other kids are saying that he was going to be riding his bike like he always is, my nephew Kayden is going to be riding his bike, and they said we’re going to grab him and take him inside and burn him,” Kayden’s aunt Kelly Mack told News4 San Antonio.
“If it wasn’t premeditated, it still is attempted murder,” Mack added.
“The other boys who were there have been telling kids at school that it was not an accident, that it was intentional,” she’s quoted as saying.
Tristyn Hatchett says she thinks her boy’s alleged assailants should be “incarcerated” and charged with murder.
“He considered these guys his friends, but they would make fun of him and pick on him and tease him,” Hatchett told the Houston Chronicle.
“He was usually the brunt of that kind of joke, but he kept playing with them,” she added.
A definition of bullying
Bullying is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons. Cyberbullying refers to bullying through information and communication technologies.
Bullying can involve humiliation, domination, intimidation, victimisation and all forms of harassment including that based on sex, race, disability, homosexuality or transgender. Bullying of any form or for any reason can have long-term effects on those involved including bystanders.
Bullying can happen anywhere: at school, travelling to and from school, in sporting teams, between neighbours or in the workplace. (www.schools.nsw.edu.au)