A stunned California community is demanding justice and offering an outpouring support for a homeless veteran who was set on fire in a gruesome attack.
Three perpetrators doused John Frazier in lighter fluid while he lay sleeping on Jan. 17 and set him ablaze, according to NBS Los Angeles. The victim suffered burns on 40 percent of his body and the tight-knit community has covered the scene of the crime with candles and messages of comfort in a show of solidarity.
"He was just a really nice guy," Elaine Lutz, a local who spoke with Frazier as recently as last week, told NBC. To her knowledge, the 58-year-old had never caused any trouble.
The assailants, who were described as men with shaved heads in their teens or early 20s, remained at large as of Tuesday and there is no known motive for the attack, according to KTLA.
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The victim is being treated at USC Medical Center and doctors expect him to survive the horrific ordeal, according to KTLA.
The incident is indicative of the recent uptick in targeted violence against homeless people.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), people on the streets experienced a 23 percent increase in such attacks in 2013 as compared with the year before.
In 2013, there were a total of 108 reported attacks against the homeless, 18 of which resulted in death, Michael Stoops, NCH's director of community organizing, told HuffPost last year. Those figures are likely much higher, considering that many incidents against homeless people go unreported.
Stoops attributed the distressing trend to a number of factors, including copycat crimes and increasing laws against homeless people that exacerbate the stigma against people on the streets.
But authorities say such grisly acts of violence boggle their minds.
In 2012, Dennis Petillo was booked for investigation of attempted murder after he burned a homeless woman in Los Angeles, according to the Associated Press.
The 24-year-old poured flammable liquid all over the woman as she lay sleeping on a bench and set her aflame.
"There was no incident or dispute or clear motivation for this horrific attack. He did not know his victim," LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese told the Los Angeles Times. "It defies explanation."