Woman sleeping on Los Angeles bus bench set on fire

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 27, 2012 2:32 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A homeless woman was in critical condition in a Los Angeles hospital after a man doused her with liquid accelerant and set her on fire as she slept on a bus bench, police said on Thursday.

Officers arrested Dennis Petillo, 24, in connection with the early morning attack, and he has been booked in jail on suspicion of attempted murder, police said.

The woman, whose name has not been released, was being treated at a local hospital with burns all over her body, said Los Angeles police Lieutenant Damian Gutierrez.

Erickson Ipina, a witness to the attack, told local station ABC 7 that he often saw the homeless woman sleeping on the bus bench. Ipina said he chased after the attacker, and called for help on his cell phone.

"I called 911 and he just turned back on me and pulled out a knife, and he told me, 'Stop following me or I will cut you,'" Ipina told ABC 7.

The television station showed images of the bus bench set on fire, which had black burn marks along it.

(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Tim Gaynor and Claudia Parsons)