The suspect rode up to the victim on a bicycle and splashed him with fuel before taking out a lighter.
A 45-year-old man was arrested on Monday for allegedly dousing a homeless man with fuel and setting him on fire in an apparently unprovoked attack.
Surveillance footage released by the police department in Santa Ana, California shows the victim engulfed in flames and left for dead by the assailant, who committed the gruesome act while riding a bicycle.
“The victim was just sitting on the sidewalk in front of a business talking on the phone,” Corporal Anthony Bertagna of Santa Ana PD told The Orange County Register. “[The suspect] rides up to him, goes in a circle then splashes him twice.”
The horrifying clip shows the suspect — covered head to toe in black with a hoodie covering his face — pulling into the parking lot of the strip mall holding a container of liquid, which Bertagna said investigators believe was gasoline.
He approaches the man, who was sitting cross legged with his back against the wall, and begins splashing him with the accelerant.
As the suspect appears to take out a lighter and ignite the fuel, the victim tries to swat the suspect away to no avail. A moment later, the victim’s arm is engulfed in flames.
According to Bertagna, the victim stood up and was on fire for about 30 seconds. A witness called authorities and firefighters transported the man to a burn center. He suffered first-, second- and third-degree burns to his upper body, underwent surgery, and was last reported to be in critical condition.
On Monday, authorities detained a man matching the description of the suspect riding a bicycle in the vicinity of the crime, 45-year-old transient Adrian Alberto Rodriguez Herrera.
After further investigation, Herrera was charged with arson and attempted murder, according to a police statement.
“Detectives are collaborating with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and working on gathering additional evidence,” read the report.
Authorities hope more witnesses will come forward as they attempt to uncover a motive.
“Was there some problem between them?” Bertagna told the Register. “That’s what we have to find out. And if he’s done this to somebody else.”