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Woman seeking justice for son, 6, for burn injuries

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An Alcolu woman whose 6-year-old son was burned at a home on Zakia Drive in October said she has faced threats and intimidation in relation to the incident.

Leslie L. Brown said her son, Emery L. McCray, was playing with other children at the home, and that an 11-year-old child came running to her saying Emery was on fire.

"I asked Emery, 'What happened to you?'" Brown said. "And he said (the 11-year-old child) set him on fire."

Emery was ultimately airlifted to Augusta Burn Center in Georgia, and was not admitted to McLeod Health Clarendon.

The boy only recently returned to school, and has scars over the majority of his back.

"My baby has scars for the rest of his life," Brown said. "I have to put oil on him. He cant be in sunlight. He has had a skin graft. He will probably have to have more surgery in March."

Brown was joined Thursday on the Clarendon County Courthouse steps from officials with the Manning and Clarendon branches of the NAACP, along with the South Carolina National Action Network, a civil rights group interested in her son's case.

"We are going to see justice happen in this case," said Julius Adger with the NAACP. "What's went on in this case should have never happened. And we are going to get to the bottom of why this happened and try not to let it happen again. Right now, it looks like someone is going to have to pay for the medical bills of this young boy and also that someone needs to be prosecuted to the fullest. This is not 1950. We have to stop this. It's going too far."

Robert McFadden, also with the NAACP, said he believes both the FBI and the S.C. Law Enforcement Division should have been contacted to investigate the case.

"This county has the appearance of unity, but deep down inside, there's a lot of complacency," he said. "In 1949, when people in Summerton decided to protest and file suit against separate but equal schooling, the people in Manning said, 'It's not time. We don't want to do this now.' But the poor people in Summerton, they said it was time."

"And I believe now is the time to stop tactics like this where someone is being intimidated for trying to speak out for her son," said McFadden.

Brown said Thursday at the courthouse that she has been "threatened and intimidated" by those who investigated the case.

"It's been hard," she said. "It's been rough. We've been intimidated. We've been getting this for a while. It won't stop. It hasn't stopped. My family and I remain in the mobile home where the incident happened. Because of the injuries with my son, I have not been able to work. The whole situation has been rough on everyone."

Brown said she wants justice and compensation.

"Someone should compensate me for my travel expenses," she said. "And they told me the only thing they were willing to do was give the child who did this 90 days. And my baby has scars for the rest of his life."

The Rev. Leon Winn, pastor of Rock Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Manning, said he and other local leaders will be approaching new Sheriff Tim Baxley about protecting Brown and her family in the face of alleged threats.

"It's appalling what has been done to her in this case," he said. "It's appalling that no one protected her and her family. We are reaching out to the new sheriff. We will do that."

Sheriff Tim Baxley said Thursday he is aware of the case and that the 11-year-old child allegedly responsible for the fire has been charged with assault and battery. Names for offenders 16 and younger are not released to media.

"The juvenile was charged Nov. 18," said Baxley. This was more than a month after the incident, which happened Oct. 16.

Manninglive.com published a story Oct. 21 on the incident, but was told at the time by former Sheriff Randy Garrett that the fire appeared to be accidental.

"How could this be an accident?" said Elder James Johnson, president of the South Carolina National Action Network. "A flammable liquid was poured on his back, and this child was set afire. An accident is where you stumble and fall into a fire. This is a crime, a hideous crime."

Garrett said in October that the children were playing and got ahold of lighter fluid, which was sparked by the older child's father, who was working with equipment that caused sparks.

But Brown said that's inaccurate, and that her son immediately asked the older child, "Why did you set me on fire?"

"This is an atrocity," said Winn. "This has been suppressed for so long and cannot be tolerated. I'm in awe at this intimidation. It's heartwrenching to know that a child has been through such a hideous crime and no one has done anything about it. It will stop today."

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