SANTA PAULA, Calif. -
Police have arrested a suspect who allegedly set a Santa Paula man on fire.
36-year old Jorge Chavez is being held on 525-thousand dollars bail for attempted murder, as well as a number of other charges. Police say he battered a Santa Paula man sleeping on a bench, before lighting him on fire. Chavez is expected in court Tuesday morning.
“I have been in this business for 36 years and I have never seen anything like what happened the other night,” said Santa Paula Police Chief Steven McLean.
The attack happened just before 7 Saturday night at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Santa Paula.
Police say a man was sleeping on a park bench when he was badly beaten, doused in a flammable liquid and set on fire.
“He is in critical condition with burns over 50-percent of his body,” said McLean, “In fact it looks like we are going to have to do DNA testing to confirm who it is, but it is someone I have seen here before sitting on the bench.”
The man behind the attack is identified as Jorge Chavez. A homeless man, Chief McLean says has been arrested by Santa Paula Police more than 70 times since 2005.
“How is it that an individual has been arrested 70 times, and he is still free to walk the streets and to do what he did to this poor guy. It is outrageous and I am sick of it,” said Mclean, “I am sick of the fact that we go out and arrest individuals just for them to go in the revolving door and come right out. Nowadays there are no consequences for committing crimes; you look at AB 109, disaster, Prop 47, disaster, and now Prop 57.”
Chavez is currently in the Ventura County Jail on $525,000-thousand dollars bail. He is charged with attempted murder, mayhem, and assault with caustic chemicals.
“I am so proud of our officers. Think about this, within 24 hours we were able to identify, track down the individual who did this heinous crime, but also I don’t want someone who is evil enough to set someone on fire walking around my community, because I guarantee you he was going to do it again,” said McLean.
The victim is currently at a burn center in Los Angeles.
The Santa Paula Police Department is searching for a suspect who attacked a man and then set him on fire Saturday evening in Santa Paula.
The incident happened at around 6:45 p.m. on the 100 block of South 10th Street.
Santa Paula firefighters were the first on the scene to discover the man suffering from serious burn injuries.
The man suffered burns on over 50 percent of his body and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. He is currently in critical condition.
Police determined that an unknown suspect approached the victim who was lying on a bench.
The suspect attacked the man and then poured a flammable substance on him and set him on fire.
The suspect was last seen riding a black bicycle eastbound on Main Street.
The suspect has been described as a Hispanic male, between 35 and 40 years old. He was seen wearing glasses, dark clothing and carrying a backpack.
Anyone who may come in contact with the suspect is advised not to approach him but instead call 911 immediately.
The investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Detective Randy Haumann at (805) 525-4474 ext. 211.