Northeast LAPD detectives this week began investigating a report that a chronically homeless man was set on fire in Eagle Rock.
Rebecca Prine, a local homeless advocate in the Northeast LA area, learned about the incident from the victim and wrote in her blog that she had encouraged him to file a police report.
Prine said the victim told her and officers that he was doused with a flammable liquid while sleeping in his wheelchair on Sept. 29 in the vicinity of the Eagle Rock Public Library. He also told Prine he is a disabled veteran.
Despite Prine’s assertions that this was a hate crime targeting the homeless man, police say there is no evidence to support that claim.
Northeast LAPD Sgt. Juan Campos told EGP on Monday that the alleged crime did not come to their attention until Sunday, and an investigation is now underway. Campos said there are suspects in the case, but the number of suspects is unknown because the victim did not get a good look at his assailants.
The victim, “John,” described the suspects as three teenaged-looking men with bald heads, according to Prine.
Prine said there were burn marks where “John” had rolled on the ground to extinguish the flames and earlier this week there were still pieces of his wheelchair on the ground.
Connie, a volunteer at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church where they feed the homeless every Friday afternoon, told EGP she was surprised to hear about the incident, and wondered if she knows the victim. Connie, who declined to give her last name, said she had never heard about any crimes like this one being committed against the homeless in Eagle Rock.