Sleeping Man ‘Engulfed in Fire’ In Last Night’s Church Fire In Arcata; Suspect Still at Large

This is a press release from the Arcata Police Department:

Arcata Police Department APD BlurOn 9-16-17 at 2103 hours, Officers from the Arcata Police Department responded to assist the Arcata Fire Department with a structure fire at the Presbyterian Church located on G St at 11th St. Upon the officer’s arrival, they located a 28-year-old male victim with severe burns to his head and hands. The investigation revealed that the man had been sleeping on the steps of the church when the suspect ignited a flammable substance in the area of the steps. The sleeping man was quickly engulfed in fire. The victim woke and made his way to the street, where Good Samaritans assisted in extinguishing the fire from the victim’s person.

The suspect was seen fleeing the church eastbound on 11th St. He is described as a possible Hispanic Male with short brown hair. He was last seen wearing a grey sweatshirt and grey jeans.

The victim was transported to the Mad River Hospital, where he is listed in serious but stable condition. The victim is expected to be transported to an out of the area burn center later today.

Any witnesses to the incident are encouraged to contact the police department.



  • Who could do such a horrible despicable Act? My heart sincerely hurts. Oh my Heavenly Father. I’m praying for this young man. Healing thoughts and prayers. Also praying for the person who could do such a horrible Act. What in the hell is the matter people, where is the love? Thankful to the people who helped put him out. There’s still genuine good people in the world.

    • He must have been possessed by Satan. It’s the only rational explanation. But it’s ok, it’s all part of Yahweh’s plan. Yahweh has an end justifies means kind of morality.

      • It’s not that you don’t have a right to your thoughts but using the posts of someone else expressing compassion as an opportunity to attack without compassion a belief you say lacks compassion is pretty disingenuous? Right?

      • “He must have been posessed by Satan. It’s the only rational explaination”

        Anybody else think of the Ancient Aliens guy?

      • Cut and paste, it applies here too.
        Probably an antifa sympathizer further pushing their agenda through violence and counting on the media to help them along

      • Yaweh, the god of Abraham was one of MANY bronze age semetic deities, who before being ascribed the title of creator of the universe was the god of WAR and the gathering of armies. Look it up. On a different note, this was an act of a psychopath, who upon seeing an easy victim, didn’t hesitate to make some home-bum bbq. What I find ironic about the responses in this thread, is that, were the story quite different & read something like “Homeless Man Sleeps Comfortably on the Steps of the Presbyterian Church,” people in this comment section would be sounding off very different sentiments about how they feel about the victim. Most would read something like “we need to do something to get this homeless filth of our streets.” Yeah, & if YAWEH has a plan this kind of psycho CRAP is most definitely part of it.

        • Social justice 200 years ago was funding poor houses. 400 years ago medicine didn’t know that bacteria existed. 2000 years ago slavery was universal.

          Man’s thinking evolves. There is a frightful tendency for people to try to hold others accounable for very ancient history if it suits their agenda. Sort of thing like Obama citing the Crusades in apologizing for Christian reactions to ISIS while refusing to use the word Islamic is current terrorists agenda, not to mention that the stimultaneous expansion of Islam by forcible conversion to which the Crusades was a reaction.

          A cherry picking of history to support an agenda is disingenuous.

      • He’s NOT one of ours.

      • ST. PAUL (AP) — Prosecutors have charged two men with attempted murder in Hennepin County District Court in the beating and burning of homeless man.
        Doctors have amputated the legs of James Neville, 43, who may also have brain injuries after the Sept. 26 attack. He remained unconscious Monday.
        Hennepin County prosecutors charged Troy Richard Dean, 27, and Stephen William Johnson, 31, with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault and first-degree aggravated robbery.

  • Another church related fire?!? What’s up with that?!? I hope the gentleman is ok and I hope they catch the perpetrator!

  • Our society is losing it’s humanity…

  • Vigilantes never rest~

    This was found in the north end of the county on Murphy market bulletin board.

    • Could this have been from the people who were there to help and have nothing to do with vigilantes? Nothing in the notice suggests violence.

    • I would email that to the po po

    • It says So. Hum. Arcata most definately ain’t SoHum.

    • I live in SoHum and know Leroy. He is only out to do good things. When the church was burning in the middle of the night, in Garberville, he was out helping save adjacent businesses from the fire. He is completely harmless. He really does just want to help

    • Hey Leroy!
      One of your vigilantes or was it you harassed me this morning. I am a 34 year old single woman who gets up at 5 am and rides 2.3 miles to work in the dark. I work my back off in an honest legal way that makes the world a better place for over 40 hours a week. I do not steal or lie or discriminate against people. Whether i work or not shouldn’t matter. Who are you?? You told me it was weird i was rummaging through someone’s van (MINE) and that I was on a bicycle so early. In fact you circled the block and came back to yell at me out your window. I had to wake my friends up and call the police because you would not leave me alone. I bought my van and registered it and pay insurance all by my big girl self. I don’t ask anyone for anything if i can do it myself. I’m sorry the world is so confusing for you when you are angry, fearful, prideful, ignorant and only God knows what else. I feel bad for you that you are so upset. Something pretty bad must have happened to you. You made me late to work by a few minutes. I had to wake my friends up and call the police. But luckily i had a good friend who helped me and the people i work with believe me because i tell the truth. Who are you?? Those without sin cast the first stone. Let me tell you something…of all the five years i have been in eureka the most problems i have had have come from people who are NOT HOMELESS. You are the problem. You need to read some books and talk to real people. Take a spiritual journey. Get a hobby. Not this. You think you are better than someone because of the way they look or live? Because of your assumptions? Here’s some advice. Open your eyes and take the world as it comes with each person individually. That is how you will learn. Your assumptions are wrong. You are getting dumber because you are perceiving life from what you think you know. You will struggle. And one day when you’re old, if you live that long, you will be equalized with everyone else. Kindness is all that matters then. You will need help to move, eat, change your diaper. You may even be in a home with people who were homeless or whatever you hate. You may be taken care of by someone you can’t stand. The thoughts in your mind during all the idle hours will be what did you do with your life? Who did you help? Who did you serve? Who did you love? And i guarantee if these are not your happy thoughts, you will die lonely and angry. Good luck. I hope you get some enlightenment.

      • You need to brush up on your reading comprehension, big girl.

      • This might be the best response I’ve ever read on this blog! You left him room for improvement w/o condemning him. But you sure gave him a true response! And what you said- it’s real.

  • Although a hideous and violent crime, it is nothing new in history. The perpetrator could be a mentally ill person attacking at random or a personal grudge against the victim. Either way they need to be caught.

    My sympathy to the victim. That is a painful and damaging injury. Thank goodness people around were there and helped him.

  • Other similar incidents have turned out to be people fed up with the homeless affecting our quality of life. Fed up with feckless politicians who do nothing about it and fed up with the court system who encourage it.

    Then they take out their frustrations on any homeless in their area. Not condoning the attack in anyway shape or form but the attacks are bound to increase.

    • Somehow throwing a molotov cocktail doesn’t seem like the act of a person angry about the homeless causing a loss of quality of life. Would seem to be more the act of a person who cares nothing for the quality of public life.

      If this were a beating, it might make more likely to fit into that scenario.

      • What are you talking about????? Do you hear yourself?
        A beating makes sense but setting someone on fire doesnt???
        Read some articles from so cal, my guess is this is an HSU transplant from LA who did it, it happens regularly down there.

        • Reading carefully you will see that I said that throwing a firebomb into a church means that it unlikely to be the kind of attack made by someone who objected to homeless individuals destroying quality of life as it destroys quality of life itself.

          Nothing was said that either a beating or a firebomb is a sensible idea. Just that blaming people who object to the homeless is not likely as the original poster stated. To make such an assumption was what was not sensible.

      • Especially since he lit half a curch on fire. Not the work of a concerned neighbor.

    • Ya? Your way of life? Honest question: what have the homeless done to you?

  • maybe the guy lit himself on fire? whiskey, wool and flame will do it folks!

  • This is a clear example of harmful rhetoric becoming harmful to a person. Everyones blaming homeless people for all the crime hereand so things like this occur. Its happened numerous times in our county.

    Dont bitch about homeless unless youre ready to be responsible for acts like this, its directly your fault if you do. You may as well have lit the match.

    Its how racism starts, our country has done it since we started,first the natives then the irish then the italians, etc etc etc. Our elected people luv to blame others in society for all the problems so the public keeps their eyes off them. Its ibviously a tactic thats still working.

  • Ok folks, lets try and remember the victims. The young man who was burned and the historical building that was just destroyed. It is tragic that this happened in our community/ and somehow we need to rally together and show this perpetrator that we are a community of love, peace and hope not a community that condones acts of violence and Arson. This is not the first time this church has faced an arsonist, in 2002 the church had a Molotov cocktail tossed through a window up the stairs in the back. Were it not for a 3-inch thick wood door separating the room on fire from the sanctuary the church would have burned to the ground. That arsonist was never caught. and the room that was burned was the room used by the Arcata Endeavor, Inc. to feed the hungry of the city. This church has faced this before and they will rally and rebuild this time too. I pray for the young man who was hurt that he recovers with no permanent scars. what was done to him is just prue evil. Even if he is houseless, I feel the community should rally around him and offer him help and support. We are better than this shit people. ( And let the critisisim begin)

  • Rich/wealthy people= not racists
    Poor people/blue collar=racist

    • Who said anything about racism?

      • Whelp did. But that still doesn’t mean that Hum broseph’s meaning is clear. Was wealth or poor meantioned previously?

        • Racism was only mentioned as an example of what happens when you engage in dehumanizing rhetoric or “othering” of groups of people. I believe the point was just that this is an obvious consequence of that.

          • So calling criminals criminals is racist because it is “dehumanizing” rhetoric? And “othering” of being law abiding is wrong?

            Personally I think it’s way too hard to catagorize humans with the intent of pointing out they need help (homeless) while simultaneously objecting to noticing that the same catagory creates much damage (homeless). It’s all one big, indivisible bundle. Parsing it out to further an agenda, especially as it seems to be a whip to strike people who see differently, won’t work. In fact it seems quite worse than ineffective.

  • >”Why is clear to you? What if it turns out to be another homeless man with a vendetta?”

    IMHO: May be er… ‘street justice’.
    That was the cause of the last arson in Manila.

  • A Hateful person,shame shame,shame on you for doing this awful act!

  • Need more like this…

  • Blame our troubles on the weak ones
    Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
    Sometimes I feel like I am living in the
    Wasteland of the Free

  • Maybe he didn’t follow through with his promise after getting oral? That seems to be the method of punishment…

  • Charles Engebretson

    Wow…pretty ugly comments…it’s called bum bashing and it’s been going on here for decades..what a bunch of heroes…

    • Do they know who the victim is? What about him. For all you people know he could have been taking refuge at the church. We are taught growing up, that a church is considered a safe place. For those that have lost their way in life. Did anyone know the victim?

  • This is absolutely tragic. I pray that the victim gets all the support and love that he needs. Hopefully he is able to heal physically and emotionally. He is alive because of those good Samaritans. Thank you to those good people. This world really needs you.

  • Seriously…find the creep…an eye for and eye. Sure it makes the whole world blind…eventually.
    Profile of the perpetrator…young, under 40…currently unemployed…hmmm

  • Here’s a homeless tale for you…
    Working in the hospital homeless guy comes in he’s extremely dirty grubby has long white hair and beard is in diabetic coma not doing so good.
    once he recovers a little bit and wakes back up he has extreme itching everywhere the nurses don’t want to touch him and they just give him Benadryl and Ativan for his itching.
    He comes over to the rehab facility where I work and the man is actually covered in lice from head to toe even in his eyebrows. He’s itching because he’s covered in lice not because he needs medicine. I took the time to comb all of the lice off of his body and his chest hair and his arms and his beard it took me hours he cried.
    He cried nobody cared about how he was itching and he kept telling them there was something wrong but they wouldn’t even give him the time of day. While I was cleaning him my co-workers totally avoided me and wouldn’t even assist I finally got him cleaned up the rest of the way end of that story that gentleman recovered and was actually able to return to his family in Wyoming. He had been homeless here because his car had broke down and then after that it was a waterfall of circumstances.
    Next one is a gentleman that when his wife died he became a bad alcoholic out of sorrow… They found him laying in the bushes behind a local grocery store with maggots attacking him. He was brought into our facility to assist in the recovery process of his wounds. On the night shift I got to know him quite well he fell homeless after his wife died and he had lost track of his children. This is before cell phones he had no idea where the rest of his family was and he was so depressed he just fell into the bottle. Prior to that he was an extremely nice man who was employed full-time for the railroad and had retired.
    Just because someone is quote-unquote homeless it does not mean that they are horrible person. Many times the person that is homeless has multiple contributing factors that have led them to the point they are.
    I was in Alaska about 4 years ago and they actually have a van that is for the homeless that is run by the police but the officer does not arrest people. He patrols the area is driving around hands out brown bag lunches Socks jackets blankets information for other services or give people rides out of the Town proper if needed. It’s a great way to not waste police resources on homeless because they are not always a problem. The problem is the perception, and how to handle it. A person is homeless they have nothing but what’s in their backpack and maybe their dog they shouldn’t be thrown in jail for that, nor set on fire.

  • May I use your direct email? What I wish to say is not for public viewing.

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