ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Police say a homeless man is recovering in intensive care after being set on fire while sleeping.
Whoever did it used fireworks as their weapon and now police are working to hunt them down with a surveillance video that captured the whole thing.
Albuquerque Police say the man was sleeping on the curb next to a Highland High School parking lot, when he was hit with the firework. The man is now in the hospital recovering from burns that nearly killed him.
“Oh my!,” gasped Jack Carrillo as he watched surveillance video of the incident.
Carrillo’s reaction is what a lot of people are saying while watching video.
“That is… that’s … that’s too much,” said Carrillo.
Police say it happened around 8 p.m. on July 11 at the corner of Quincy and Silver near Highland High School. That’s close to San Mateo and Central.
Monday afternoon, burn marks were still visible on the ground show where the fire was lit.
Police say a large purple GMC SUV with large shiny silver rim pulled up to the man who was sleeping curbside. Investigators believe someone in the SUV threw a lit firework on the man.
“An individual almost lost his life because of it, because of another prank or deliberate act against a homeless person and they need to stop,” said Officer Tanner Tixier with the Albuquerque Police Department.
Surveillance cameras on the back of the National Dance Institute’s Highland Theater building caught the crime as it happened. Video shows the twinkle of a firework light up the frame as the SUV slowly drives away.
Cameras on the front of the theater caught a more clear picture of the vehicle as it made it’s getaway.
“That’s not a very popular color of the vehicle and those rims make it just stand out that much more,” said Tixier.
Police are hoping someone recognizes the car. They want to talk to whoever was inside of it.
Robert Mountjoy, who says he’s homeless and camps out in the area sometimes, tells KRQE News 13 he believes he has seen the SUV around the neighborhood before.
He says just two or three days ago, he was camping out near a dumpster when someone lit his stuff on fire. Mountjoy does not know if it was the same people responsible for the firework attack.
“I’m getting too old and it’s getting hard out here, real hard,” Mountjoy said.
Neighbors like Jack Carrillo say they’re used to seeing homeless people sleeping in the area, which is near a row of trees lining the load docks of a Walmart.
However, Jack says they’ve never heard of something like this.
“I think that’s a horrible story. I can’t believe that somebody else would do something to someone like that,” said Carrillo.
Police say the homeless man who was set on fire is still in University of New Mexico Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit with burns all over his body. Police say whoever did it could at least face an aggravated battery charge.
This is the third brutal crime against the homeless in Albuquerque in the past 13 months. Last July, three teens beat a homeless man to death with poles and cinder blocks just for the fun of it off west Central Avenue. Last June, someone drove up on the curb downtown near a homeless shelter killing a woman and injuring four other homeless people who were sleeping. That driver was never caught.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 843-STOP.