The Campbell River RCMP is investigating after a 20-year-old man was set on fire while sleeping under a bridge overnight on Monday (Sept. 21), but are emphasizing there is no indication that it was a targeted attack due to him being homeless.
The man was found by fishermen in The Brick parking lot with severe burns to his back on Tuesday morning, and police responded at approximately 7:30 a.m.
He was transported to hospital for treatment of the burns, which the police are calling very serious but not life-threatening.
“He has some injuries, which I’m not at liberty to discuss,” says Staff Sgt. Tracy Veary, adding the man is currently mobile and fully cooperating with the investigation.
Police say that although they believe the man was deliberately set on fire while he was sleeping under the highway bridge, “there’s nothing that would suggest that he’s been targeted because of his personal circumstances – the fact that he’s living on the street at the moment,” Veary says. “Our investigation is ongoing, and the victim is cooperating with us. He’s recovering from his injuries, and we’re hoping that if anyone was in the area and may have seen something, that they contact us to help with the investigation.”
The man was able to remove some of the burning clothing while getting to the parking lot for help, according to the report, and police later found that some of his possessions were taken from the area.
“Setting someone on fire is truly an egregious offence. Nobody, no matter what their situation in life deserves to be treated in such a horrendous manner,” said Const. Maury Tyre. “We truly wish this young man a speedy recovery.”
The area, including the trails to popular fishing spots under the Tamarac Street bridge, was closed Monday morning as police investigated the scene.
The investigation is in its early stages and the police are looking to speak with anyone who might have witnessed the incident or have information about it. They are particularly interested in nearby businesses who may have surveillance video in the area as well as dashcam footage of anyone who was travelling on the highway over the Campbell River in either direction between 3:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 22.
“There may be something very minor, but could be something very useful to us in that footage,” said Tyre.
People are asked to call the Campbell River RCMP at 250-286-6221 about the file (2020-12211) if they have further information or were in the area between 6 and 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday.