Residents in a South Los Angeles neighborhood made a grim discovery Monday morning as they were using buckets to put out a fire and realized it was the body of a man burning on a sidewalk, police said.
Police were called to 57th and Fortuna streets about 3:30 a.m., said Officer Rosario Herrera of the Los Angeles Police Department's Media Relations Office.
The name and age of the dead man were not immediately known.
Homicide detectives were using a specially trained dog to determine if an accelerant was present in the man's clothing, police said.
"We don't think that the clothing that this person was wearing would be enough to set him on fire," said LAPD Capt. George Rodriguez.
Neighbors came out with a couple buckets of water to try to douse the flames of what they thought was a car fire when they realized it was a body, Rodriguez said.
The victim was so badly burned, detectives couldn't immediately determine his race or age. People who live in the area say before the fire, they didn't hear a thing.
"This street right here don't have that type of action," said Shane Tresevant, a South LA resident. "You got family houses. You got the nature park. You got people that don't even come outside. So for that to happen to him last night he had to do something to somebody."
Alex Herrera, a co-owner of Herrera's machine shop, couldn't believe it.
"There's no words to explain this," Herrera said. "It's just terrible."