‘My son is severely hurt’: Teen charged, accused of lighting another student’s hair on fire

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 11:26 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A teen has been charged after allegedly lighting a 13-year-old student’s hair on fire right in the middle of class.

The incident happened Wednesday at John Rolfe Middle School in Henrico. The boy’s mother, who does not want to be named says her son is at VCU Medical Center suffering from second and third-degree burns.

The mother says still can’t wrap her head around the circumstances that landed him there. She says she received a call from an administrator Wednesday afternoon on her son’s phone shortly after he was burned.

“He had long, curly, just a nice head of hair, it was beautiful,” his mother said. “All I could hear the teacher say over the phone was something is happening with my son.

According to police, Henrico Fire and Police responded to John Rolfe Middle School around 12:30 p.m. for a victim who was suffering non-life-threatening burns. A school resource officer was able to assist her son until fire officials arrived to take him to the hospital.

The mother says she was told by administrators that the school was on lockdown due to COVID-19 contact tracing, so her son’s math class was having lunch in the classroom. She says her son went to throw away his tray when another student approached him from behind with a lighter.

“That’s when the girl kind of flicked the lighter and lit his hair on fire,” the mother said.

Hair that once went down past the 13-year-old’s shoulders is now burned to his scalp. His mother says the side of his head, ear, and parts of his neck is scarred and blistered with 2nd and 3rd-degree burns. The mother says when she arrived at the school she was able to ride in the ambulance with her son to the hospital.

“He was hysterical; he looked scared,” she said. “His pride emotionally and mentally is broken.”

But she says what broke her most was the middle school’s response. She says the school initially downplayed the incident and didn’t want to press charges on the student.

“What if this was your child, what would you be, would you be livid would you be devasted how would you feel?” the mother asked. “Would you feel supported by Henrico County Schools?”

John Rolfe’s Principal sent the following statement to parents and students following the incident:

“This is Ms. George, principal of John Rolfe Middle School. I’m calling to let you know about an incident that took place in your child’s science class today. A student was burned by a classmate who was playing with a lighter. The injured student was taken to the hospital and is receiving treatment. Here at school, we are reviewing the incident to ensure something like this does not happen again and taking appropriate disciplinary action as necessary. Thank you.”

Despite the statement, the victim’s mother says the middle school’s response doesn’t do enough to address her sons trauma.

“You can’t just brush this under the rug and think that it’s going to just go away, It’s not,” the mother said. “My son is severely hurt, he’s suffering and it’s not fair to me it’s not fair to him so y’all just need to be held accountable.”

Thursday, the Henrico Fire Marshal’s Office charged a teen with unlawful wounding. The matter will be heard in Juvenile and Domestic Court.

The victim’s mother says she has no idea how much longer her son will remain in the hospital for his injuries, but she is grateful wounds aren’t any worse.

“Right now, I’m just blessed that I have him that I can talk to him that I can get him in good spirits that I can touch his hand that he can talk back to me I’m just happy he’s here.”

If you would like to support the mother and her son as he recovers you can do so by emailing ronica.j.wilson@gmail.com.

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