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Police identify suspect in attack on homeless woman in Van Nuys

Woman burned

Police have identified the man suspected of dousing a homeless woman with a flammable liquid and setting her on fire Thursday morning.

Dennis Petillo, 24, has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, said Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andy Smith. Witnesses said Petillo set the 67-year-old woman on fire about 1 a.m. as she slept on a bus bench in Van Nuys.

The woman was taken to a hospital, where she is in critical condition, authorities said. Her name has not been released. It's unclear if there is a connection between her and the suspect.

Residents said the woman had slept at the bus stop at Van Nuys Boulevard and Sherman Way every night for years.


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Photo: Ralph Boyle, 49, passes by the bus stop in Van Nuys where a sleeping homeless woman was set on fire  early Thursday morning. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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