A 63-year-old man is in critical condition Friday night after he and his car were doused with a liquid and set on fire outside a Long Beach convenience store hours earlier.
"This is an unsettling crime, a horrific act," said Sgt. Aaron Eaton, with Long Beach Police Department.
The attacker approached the victim, tossed a flammable liquid into a green sport utility vehicle and sparked the blaze, Eaton said. Investigators do not believe the victim and attacker know each other.
After running from the 7-11 near Pacific Coast Highway, a 39-year-old man known by many in the area to be homeless was arrested in connection with the attack.
Witnesses used fire extinguishers and water bottles to help extinguish the flames, which consumed the victim as he stumbled from the SUV.
A white sedan was parked next to the SUV. The driver of that car was inside the 7-11 getting a cup of coffee when his car also caught fire.
Steve Cox said he gave spare change to the alleged attacker minutes before the fire.
"He didn’t seem like he was going to harm anybody. He wasn’t very aggressive or anything. I mean, asking for change, he seemed like a nice guy," Cox said. "I’m really surprised about what happened. It’s outrageous."
Neither the victim nor the alleged attacker were identified as of late Friday.