BRADENTON -- Teira Fields is a budding Bradenton writer and college student busy trying to publish her first novel, "Dirty Laundry," which, she said, deals with a woman climbing up from adversity.
But Fields, 23, who also attends St. Petersburg Junior College studying to be a teacher, said there won't be a chapter about the horrific experience she endured Wednesday night.
Just after 10:30 p.m., Fields stood up for her mother, who had been struck multiple times in the head by her boyfriend during a domestic dispute, according to a Bradenton police report. The 4-foot-11 Fields was knocked to the ground by the much larger man and pushed into a fire.
The suspect, Brandon Jerome Randolph, then went back inside and doused his girlfriend and the interior of the home with gasoline, police said. He threatened to light the gasoline, but instead ran from the home.
Randolph, 25, was arrested at 9:45 a.m. Thursday in unincorporated Manatee County. He has been charged with attempted second-degree murder, attempted arson, aggravated assault and domestic battery.
Detectives say Randolph pressed the left side of Field's face close to burning embers in a fire pit set up on the cement walkway in front of the residence on 12th Street West, where Fields lives with her mother, Detira Coston, and other family members.
The left side of Fields' face was bandaged Thursday so her second-degree burns could heal.
"I thought I would catch fire and die," Fields said. "The doctors think my face will completely heal. But I won't be able to work or go to school for a while."
The ambitious Fields, who also has sung in the choir of her late grandmother Annie Field's Bradenton church, Gethsemane Baptist, also works as a salesperson at the Dooney & Bourke store at the Ellenton Prime Outlets.
On Thursday, as relatives and friends came to support Fields, her mother spoke passionately about the incident and Randolph's arrest.
"I'm thrilled they caught him," Coston said. "Relief has filled my soul."
Coston said she wants the maximum sentence given to Randolph.
"The highest allowed," Coston said. "I don't know why he attacked my daughter. I'm flabbergasted this happened. But maybe it's because this is the one of my four children who has been there during all nine years of my relationship with Brandon and she is the one always saying to him, 'You're not gonna do my mom like that.'"
Fields said the dispute started when Randolph got mad over some missing money and punched Coston in the head several times, causing her to bleed.
Police said Coston temporarily lost her vision because of the beating.
Coston told Fields to call 911, but Randolph chased her down when she tried to run outside, took her iPhone and the two struggled.
"When he gets angry, he gets filled with rage," Fields said. "He grabbed me and threw me into the fire. He held me down. I could feel it steaming on my face."
Fields said three adults were outside when Randolph pushed her into the fire and none of them helped her right away.
"They were probably scared of him," Fields said.
With help -- finally -- from one of the onlookers, Fields escaped and ran to a neighbor's house to call 911.
"I was burned and bleeding," Fields said.
Coston said what Randolph did to her daughter was not just a crime.
"It was cruel and spineless," Coston said. "She's a female so he's got a point on her right from the start due to gender. This is a small person with a big heart that he did this to."
Since 2010, Randolph has had multiple charges ranging from selling crack cocaine, armed robbery, resisting arrest and burglary to a structure, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's jail website.
He was released from prison in August 2012 after serving almost 15 months of two-year sentence for dealing cocaine, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.