The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Police: Philadelphia teen doused boy with hand sanitizer and set him ablaze

Rayfiq Tiggle, 17, has been charged for allegedly spraying an 11-year-old boy with hand sanitizer and setting him on fire. (Philadelphia Police Department)
Placeholder while article actions load

Philadelphia police have arrested a teenager accused of spraying an 11-year-old boy with hand sanitizer and setting him on fire.

Police said 11-year-old Glenn Spears was sitting with friends on a porch Wednesday evening in West Philadelphia when 17-year-old Rayfiq Tiggle walked by holding a bottle of hand sanitizer and Spears’s friend asked to have some. Police said Tiggle then told Spears he was dirty, sprayed him with it and set him on fire with a cigarette lighter.

Spears was reportedly shirtless because the boys had been swimming.

“He started to spray it on us and when I was wiping it off he lit it on fire,” Spears told WTXF-TV. “He told me not to tell anybody.”

By the time Spears came home after allegedly being attacked, his mother said, his skin was “bubbling.”

“I don’t understand it. It’s crazy,” his mother, Kristal Manago, told WTXF-TV. “It’s a ludicrous act and at the end of the day it doesn’t make any sense.” She took Spears to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for second-degree burns along the left side of his body.

“They gave me a shot, they gave me liquid medicine and at the end they put a special wrap on it,” Spears told the news station.

[Kentucky teen gets burned after mimicking ‘fire challenge’ he saw online]

Police said they got a description of the attacker from Spears and his friends. Officers then arrested Tiggle, who had two lighters on him according to police, a few blocks from the scene and transported him to the hospital where Spears identified him, police said.

Tiggle is being held on $100,000 bail for aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, arson and possessing an instrument of a crime. Tiggle is being charged as an adult, according to WTXF-TV and NBC Philadelphia.

“It’s totally unacceptable behavior, but it’s something that could have been much worse,” Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker told WTXF-TV. “If [Spears] had clothing on and [Tiggle] sprayed [Spears’s] clothing, cotton clothing and the stuff ignited [Spears] could get burned up pretty well and possibly die.”

Most liquid and gel hand sanitizers contain about 60 percent ethyl alcohol, which is flammable when wet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Several years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Fire Safety unit conducted tests to determine how flammable the substance is, since it is commonly used in airplane lavatories.

“Hand sanitizer is flammable and can easily be ignited with a common grill lighter when poured into a pan,” the researchers found. “It tends to burn relatively cool, compared to fuel, plastic, or cellulose fires with peak flame temperatures between 500° and 1000°F.”

Manago told WTXF-TV she expects to find out soon whether her son will need skin graft surgery.

Loading...