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In April, a 6-year-old Connecticut boy suffered third-degree burns after playing with a ball doused in gasoline and set on fire — apparently an idea popularized by TikTok, a social media app.
Dominick Krankall’s mother attributed the incident to the bullying tactics of his 8-year-old neighbor, Stephano Giacobbe, but Stephano’s mother, Laura Giacobbe, denies Kranall’s claims.
Laura Giacobbe told Fox News Digital that she asked Maria Rua, Domnick’s mother, to watch over their children at Giacobbe’s Bridgeport home for a couple hours while she ran errands on April 24 — the day Dominick caught fire.
“You neglected to be out there to see what these kids were doing, and you didn’t watch them,” Giacobbe, a mother of eight, said of Rua, a mother of seven. “So it’s not what Dominick said. … You neglected these kids.”
She continued: “I’m not going to continue to use or slander my son and let this 8-year-old child be put all over the world as a bully. It’s not going to happen. Enough is enough, Maria. Enough is enough.”
Giacobbe’s sons and Dominick were apparently playing outside under Rua’s watch when they lit the ball on fire — an idea they got from TikTok, Giacobbe explained.
“The TikTok trend shows a soccer ball on fire being kicked around,” she said.
Security footage from her backyard shows the boys kicking the flaming ball around.
The kids eventually go back inside, and less than an hour later, they return to the backyard and continue to kick around an ignited ball, at which point Dominick catches fire. Giacobbe’s 11-year-old son can be seen trying to quash the flames on Dominick’s face.
Dominick sustained severe third-degree burns and was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was treated and eventually released.
Dominick’s family, however, says the 6-year-old was intentionally set on fire.
“[H]e came back around the corner on fire screaming, ‘Mommy, they lit me on fire, they lit me on fire,'” Dominick’s sister, Kayla Deegan, told Fox 5. “This has happened multiple times with this kid bullying my little brother.”
An online fundraiser for the boy titled “Justice for Dominick… STOP BULLYING!” hoping to raise $50,000 for medical bills, has reached nearly $600,000 in donations.
“I want her arrested,” Giacobbe said of Rua, who did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox News Digital.
A June 11 update on the Krankall family’s GoFundMe states that the backyard security footage does not show “how it happens.”
“You just see Dominick on fire,” the updates states. “… Now, we have people coming at us, calling my family liars and scammers. We are more than happy to give refunds to anyone who believes this. I understand if you do. I already spoke with the GoFundMe team about this. If your child, told you this story moments after it happened, you wouldn’t believe him/her? Even a month and a half later the story has never changed! Not a single detail!”
The family added that they have “proof” of Stephano bullying Dominick, adding that the donated funds “WILL BE GOING TO A NEW HOME” rather than for personal use, and that “[e]verything else will be put into a trust for Dominick that is irrevocable.”
Before the traumatic incident that has torn the two families apart, Giacobbe said she and Rua, neighbors with a bunch of kids around the same ages, were “soul sisters.”
“[A]ll our kids are around the same age, if not the same age. And it was pretty cool because, you know, when you interacted, you had a family that had a lot of kids. And … you never find that many people that you want to hang out with,” the mother said.
Giacobbe reiterated that she’s not out to “get anybody” or “put [Rua] down.”
“I just want the truth out. And I don’t like what’s going on,” she said.
The Bridgeport Police Department has said there were no signs of deliberate injury in the case. Police are actively investigating the incident.
Fox News’ Larence Richard contributed to this report.