LONG BEACH, Calif. (TheBlaze/AP) — A man was sitting in side his Toyota SUV in front of a Long Beach 7-Eleven this Friday afternoon when he was doused in a flammable substance and set afire, police Sgt. Aaron Eaton said.
The 63-year-old Long Beach man was badly burned on the upper torso and remained in critical condition Saturday as investigators tried to determine what motivated the suspect, a homeless man, investigators say.
“Officers were dispatched to a car on fire…that’s what they originally thought they were coming to,” he said. “But when they arrived, they found that there was a man who had actually been on fire.”
The scene was terrifying, said Shannon Flynn, 16, of Long Beach.
“He was engulfed in flames,” she told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “The fire was so big, people were screaming. I just can’t believe this happened here.”
Another eyewitness told ABC7: “His entire shirt was on fire, his head was on fire…”
Robert Linkroum said he was buying a newspaper at the store when he looked up and saw a man “walking on a mission” toward the car and throwing what appeared to be a bottle inside.
“The vehicle went up in flames immediately, just totally engulfed. It was all flames,” he said. “It became so hot in 7-Eleven that I moved towards the back of the store because I thought the windows were going to blow.”
Eaton said bystanders helped the burning man by trying to pour water on him to douse the flames.
Police arrested 38-year-old Raymond Sean Clark about a block away, after a bystander grabbed him. He was booked on suspicion of attempted murder and for two misdemeanor warrants for failing to appear on other charges. He remained jailed Saturday on more than $500,000 bail.
Witnesses said Clark is a panhandler who asked people for change and cigarettes outside the store, and that he approached the man in the SUV earlier.
However, Eaton said the motive for the attack was unclear. There was no indication that the victim and attacker knew each other prior to that meeting, he said.
“It’s a horrific crime to think that somebody…[can] be sitting there, minding their own business, and then all the sudden be lit on fire,” Eaton said.
ABC News has more on the shocking story: