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Man set on fire in Long Beach described as kind, helpful

October 22, 2012 |  2:29 pm

Friends of a Long Beach man who was set on fire with a Molotov cocktail outside a market said they want to know who would do such a terrible thing to a person they described as kind and helpful.

They said the victim, whom they know as Raul, frequented the Brite Spot seafood restaurant near the Long Beach market in the 200 block of Pacific Coast Highway. They said he would sometimes buy food for the homeless.

"Sometimes we'd be busy here and he'd help us out by clearing the tables and sweeping the floors," Norma Perez, 38, said. "He didn't have to help us, but he would."

Workers said the man was a cook at one of the restaurants at the Queen Mary, although officials at the ship could not immediately confirm the man's employment.

Perez said the man stopped by briefly on Friday, then walked out to pick up his father at the bus stop outside of the market as usual before the attack.

"I saw the firefighters when I was leaving work, but I didn't think much of it," Perez said. "I was sad when I learned what happened to him, we all were."

Perez said her brother, Gustavo Mora, 26, a deliveryman at the restaurant who befriended Raul, tried visiting his friend at the hospital the morning after the attack.

He said the man's face was swollen and his skin was red from the burns.

"It's terrible what happened to him," Mora said. "He's a really good person. … I just want him to recover, God will take care of the justice part."

Authorities released surveillance video Sunday of the incident in an effort to help find the attacker. Police said the victim was sitting in front of the market when he was hit by a bottle filled with a flammable liquid.

He became "engulfed in flames," said Sgt. Aaron Eaton. The attacker ran off and witnesses helped put out the flames, Eaton said.

Officers do not know the identity of the attacker, but described him as a Latino man between 25 and 30 years old, 5' 8" to 5' 10" and weighing about 180 pounds. He was wearing a light-colored, short-sleeve, button-down shirt with vertical stripes and blue jeans.

Anyone who may have information regarding the attacker's identity is urged to contact the Long Beach Fire Department's Arson Hotline at (562) 570-2582. Anonymous tips may be submitted by calling (800) 222-TIPS, texting TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES, or visiting lacrimestoppers.org.

"There is no motive known," Eaton said. "The victim was just siting there, just minding his own business."

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-- Ruben Vives in Long Beach
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