HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu police have opened an attempted murder investigation after a 39-year-old homeless man was doused with gasoline, set on fire and severely burned.
The attack has workers in the area nervous as the suspect remains on the loose.
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It happened just before 6 a.m. on Wednesday, May 12. A witness says there was another attempt two hours before and it is not clear if the same suspect was involved.
The witness says the victim is a homeless man who was sleeping on the sidewalk near Long’s and Safeway on the Pali Highway.
Sources say the suspect used a torch to light the man on fire and then ran off and jumped in a nearby car, which drove off. The witness says the victim got up to try and put the flames out and got some help from people nearby.
Emergency Medical Services says the man was taken to the hospital with second- and third-degree burns.
“It was scary yeah, I came to work and security man told me what happened, it was scary,” said Joanne Truong, who owns a business nearby.
“Not only us, but I worry for all the people in the building and of course our neighbors also,” said Judy Balasico, who works in the area.
While police search for the suspect, workers and business owners say the homeless problem in the area has gotten out of hand. One business has hired its own security guard to keep customers from getting harassed.
“Mainly for the people to know that they can be safe around this area cause there’s a lot of homeless and they come around asking people for money. this and that, it’s unsafe,” said security guard Siaosi Pakileata.
Business owners say they prefer to keep their doors locked during business hours and tell customers to call when they arrive because it is safer that way. Their storefront windows have also been smashed multiple times.
“We see the people who did it but it’s just random people and they just do it and I don’t know why,” said Truong.
The owner of the building says there is a video of the incident that was recorded by a security camera, which has been turned over to police. They are working with HPD to see what can be done to make the area safer.