Van Nuys, CA- An elderly California woman is barely clinging to life after being set ablaze while she was sleeping on a bus bench in Van Nuys.
The 67 year-old homeless woman was a familiar fixture on the bus bench which sits on the corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and Sherman Way. People who worked in the area were used to seeing her; every morning she would go into the local Union gas station and purchase a pack of cigarettes. She often slept on the bench, but on Thursday her slumber was horrifically ended when a man used flammable liquid and set her on fire.
According to witnesses, a man walked into the Walgreens near the corner and purchased a bottle of rubbing alcohol, KTLA reported. The 28 year-old man then walked by the slumbering woman, dowsed her in the fluid, lit a match and set her on fire. He then fled.
But one witness, Erickson Impina quickly sprang into action and chased the man down.
“I was following him and then pulled out my cell phone. I called 911 and he just turned back on me and pulled out a knife and he told me ‘Stop following me or I will cut you,” Impina told ABC.
Impina was undaunted and continued to follow the suspect until police arrived and place him under arrest.
The woman suffered burns all over her and is listed in critical condition at a local burn unit. She is barely alive and authorities are worried she could die.
The suspect has been booked on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, but his charges could be changed to attempted murder, and if the woman dies he is facing homicide.
Police have not released the name of the suspect and still try to determine the motive for the heinous crime.
When Van Nuys residents awoke and heard of the tragedy they purchased poinsettias and placed them with candles along the bench in honor of the injured woman. The charred bench serves as a reminder of how hard life on the streets can be.
Crimes committed against the homeless are not unusual in Southern California.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a 55 year-old homeless man was also set on fire as he slept outside a donut shop in Southern LA County; police don’t have a suspect for this crime.
In October a Long Beach man was set afire when a passing motorist threw a bottle of flammable liquid at him outside a market.
And between Dec., 2011 and Dec. 2012, a former Marine, Itzcoatl Ocampo, murdered four homeless men and is currently awaiting trial.
While these crimes are very violent, a large fraction of people arrested in Los Angeles are charged with lesser crimes such as burglary, drunken driving and drug charges. And despite the severity of the crime a person is charged with they deserve to defend themselves in court.
For a solid defense, offenders must hire an accomplished attorney who will dedicate their time and energy to stopping your conviction. Los Angeles attorney Robert Bernstein has been providing his criminal defense services to LA residents for over two decades.
- Law Office of Robert M. Bernstein
9595 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 900
Beverly Hills, CA 90212