DETROIT (WXYZ) - She made national headlines when she was set on fire and shot - three weeks away from giving birth.
Somehow she survived, and so did her baby.
Now her family is talking about the terrifying attack for the first time and sharing their story only with 7 Action News.
“It’s crazy," says Angela Beatty, Latonya's mother. "I have never in my life thought something like this could happen."
Almost one month since the assault, Latonya is still struggling with mobility and she is still in a lot of pain.
“The skin grafts have been healing not so well," says Beatty. "They’re second and third degree burns, really painful.”
The ordeal began when Latonya went to a movie with Jamal Rogers, the father of the child.
When the two returned to Jamal’s house in Warren, they pulled into the garage where police say Antonio Mathis was waiting.
Mathis allegedly threw Latonya to the ground, duct taped her feet, hands, mouth and eyes, and drove off with Latonya in Latonya’s Saturn Vue.
Police say Rogers and Mathis planned the attack because Rogers did not want the child.
"I know Jamal," says Beatty. "And I could not believe that he would do something like this to my daughter. Before this she used to say Jamal is the best male friend I ever had."
Mathis allegedly took Latonya to an alley in Detroit, where he doused her with lighter fluid, set her on fire and shot her once in the back. Latonya played dead, and Mathis ran.
“She’s my superhero," says Beatty. "I don’t care how she says it, she calls it common sense, I call it you are my hero. You survived, you were on fire, and shot, and knew to play dead, who does that?”
Latonya, who studies criminal justice at Oakland Community College, was able to free herself from all the duct tape, jump in her car, and make it to a gas station, where a clerk let her use his cell phone.
“She called me," says Beatty. She said 'Mama I’ve been…kidnapped, set on fire and shot, get out of the house'."
Angela, who had been sleeping, did not fully grasp what she had heard.
A few minutes later Latonya made it home, and Angela jumped into the driver’s seat and the two drove to Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital.
"Her clothes were burned," says Beatty. "You could see the skin hanging off her."
Latonya was in critical condition, and three days later she would have an emergency C-section and give birth to baby Jaylen.
Like his mom, the baby is struggling. Jaylen has a low platelet count and has holes in his heart.
Today, just about a month since the unimaginable attack, Latonya and her baby slowly recover. But Latonya is still having nightmares.
“Even when she’s sitting there, you can see her jumping when she’s trying to sleep," Beatty says. "She’ll jump up and look around and she says she can vividly see what’s happening and I’m not sure what to do.”
And as Latonya learns the ropes of being a first-time mom, dealing with the aftermath of a gun shot wound and painful burns, as well as her son’s fragile health, her mom knows they can deal with any challenge but wonders what else may be ahead.
“You got to work every day, thinking you’re doing good, you’re kids are in school, and something like this comes along and he wanted to take my child away. I don't understand."
The family is very thankful to the Warren Police for its hard work, and to the community for their prayers and gifts that have been dropped off at the Warren Police Department.
The ordeal is taking a financial, emotional and physical toll that will require months, if not years, of therapy ahead.
A fund has been set up at Fifth Third Bank in the name of Latonya Bowman for anyone who would like to make a donation.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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