Woman set on fire in LA as she sleeps on bench
- Haji Ali dargah will have to open doors for women after Bombay HC ruling
- My vision for India is rapid transformation, not gradual evolution: PM Modi
- Panel works on alternative to pellets: Balls of pepper, capsicum gas
- Scorpene leak: Firms to be blacklisted only in cases of clear criminality, says Parrikar
- Sheena Bora murder: Taped conversations emerging on media submitted in court, says CBI
For more than 10 years, the homeless woman slept on the same plastic bus stop bench at a busy intersection in the San Fernando Valley, no matter how cold it was or if it was raining.
The 67-year-old, described by one church volunteer who saw her regularly as the "sweetest lady on the street,'' was nestled in her regular spot early Thursday when the unthinkable happened: A man came out of a nearby drug store, doused her with a flammable liquid and set her ablaze.
She was taken to a hospital, where she was listed in critical condition.
Witness Erickson Ipina called emergency services, and police arrested Dennis Petillo, 24, a short time later. He was booked for investigation of attempted murder and was held on $500,000 bail. It wasn't immediately known if he had retained an attorney.
"He just poured it all over the old lady,'' Ipina told reporters at the scene. ``Then he threw the match on her and started running.''
Police provided no possible motive and released no details on Petillo. The victim's name also was withheld.
LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese told the Los Angeles Times it was unclear whether Petillo spoke to the woman before he allegedly set her ablaze.
"There was no incident or dispute or clear motivation for this horrific attack. He did not know his victim. It defies explanation,'' Albanese said. ``He is not of sound mind. ... The motive is mental illness.''
The attack shocked nearby residents, and later Thursday about a dozen people held vigil around the charred bench, urging motorists to honk their horns in support of homeless rights. One sign placed on the bench read, ``Our Prayers to Violet,'' believed to be the victim's first name.
- Pakistan army has a battle to win: The corruption within
- Anger of Irom Sharmila’s supporters should not be dismissed as selfishness or cynicism
- You keep the cow’s tail: A post card from Una, Gujarat, August 15
- History shows why Balochistan is not an internal matter of Pakistan
- The use of technology will be key to making GST a success
- Sedition law cannot be used against honest views, expressed peacefully