ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Police are searching for someone who threw lighted fireworks at a homeless man while he was sleeping on an Albuquerque street corner, setting him on fire and seriously burning him.
Police say the man was sleeping at Quincy and Silver SE, near Central and San Mateo, around 8 p.m. on July 11 when someone in a purple GMC sports utility vehicle drove up and hurled fireworks at him.
“As a result, the homeless man caught on fire and sustained some pretty serious burns across his body,” police spokesman Tanner Tixier said.
Police didn’t identify the victim “for his safety,” Tixier said. He was still in the intensive care unit with serious burns Monday, Tixier said.
Detectives are searching for the purple SUV. Police are asking anyone with information about the crime or the SUV to call 843-STOP or southeast area detectives at 256-2050.
Homeless advocates say violent crimes against the homeless population aren’t uncommon in Albuquerque.
“They’re not seen as human, they’re seen as objects,” said Anita Cordova, spokeswoman for Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless. “The exposed risk of violence while sleeping on the streets is unfathomable.”
Cordova said the homeless should be made a “protected class,” meaning crimes against them would become hate crimes. It’s an issue Healthcare for the Homeless has been working on for years, but it received special attention last summer when two homeless men were allegedly beaten to death by three teenagers in a West Central lot.
“They should definitely be protected; they’re much more vulnerable,” she said. “It’s open season, and it’s horrible.”