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Group home worker says tenant attacked him with chemicals

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Michael Wathen is accused of attacking a group home worker with a mixture of chemicals. Michael Wathen is accused of attacking a group home worker with a mixture of chemicals.
FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (WJBK) -

"Do not get relaxed.  Don't get comfortable on the couch.  If you do, you'll never wake up again."  It was a threat Eric Baker said he never thought Michael Wathen would make good on, but as evidenced in photographs, Baker is lucky to be alive.

Baker is a direct care worker at a group home in Farmington Hills.  Wathen was one of the tenants.  February 23, the 57-year-old Wathen was reportedly angry.  Baker had told him not to smoke in his room.

"He comes behind me, and I turn around getting ready to ask him what do you need.  He throws the chemicals and everything in my face.  So it's a tall cup, and it's like burning.  I'm like, 'Oh, man, what the heck did you do?'" Baker explained.  "I'm burning like fire.  It's actually burning the skin off my nose and stuff at this time and burning off my face."

Baker worried about the two other tenants said he yelled for them to call 911.  He said Wathen was still coming at him, now with a plant in a huge pot.

"He takes it and he throws it at my face.  When he throws it at my face, it hits me [in the chest,] and it just breaks," Baker said.

He was still standing and still burning when he said Wathen hit him with another plant, then got a knife.

"He comes back with a huge butcher knife," said Baker.  "He's coming at me at my face... and I grab a skillet and I'm like frightening him off."

He said Wathen then went outside and broke out every window in his van before police pulled up and arrested him.

Police and paramedics finally got Baker into the shower trying to get the chemicals off his skin believed to be a combination of bleach and hot cooking oil and who knows what else.  Baker told police he couldn't leave his other tenants, so the officers stayed with them while Baker was rushed to the hospital.  He said he has no doubt Wathen wanted him dead.

"It just would've been horrific, and I'm just glad that God was there that he didn't," Baker said.

Now as he travels a long road to recovery dealing with the physical and emotional scars, his wife and son are traumatized by what happened to him, he is grateful to the Farmington Hills police and his pastor.  He is grateful for all of the prayers, but determined to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else.

"The people that work in this field, they don't have any protection.  There should be rights for consumers, but [there are] no rights for the people that work there," said Baker.

As for Wathen, he is a career criminal and a convicted sex offender.  He is locked up and charged with attempted murder.

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