Police Probe Retaliation as Possible Motive in Panhandler Firebomb Attack

The victim, whose identity has not been revealed by police, is in critical condition and unable to speak after the firebomb attack, police said.

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Detectives are investigating whether a homeless man who had been panhandling outside a Long Beach 7-Eleven retaliated against a man who declined to give him money by firebombing his SUV, police said on Sunday.

The attack, caught on cellphone video, occurred Friday as a man in an SUV was parked outside the convenience store near Pacific Coast Highway and Clark Avenue in Long Beach, police said. Horrified witnesses used water bottles to try to douse the victim who was in flames as he staggered out of his burning vehicle.

The unidentified victim was in critical condition. Police are withholding his name because he is the victim of a violent crime.

Police arrested Raymond Sean Clark in connection with the attack. He was being held on an attempted murder charge and misdemeanor warrants at the Los Angeles County Jail. Police this week expect to file their case with prosecutors who will decide whether to charge Clark.

Detectives don't believe the two men know each other and they are trying to figure out what led up to the firebombing.

"At this point we do not know what occurred before the crime, so we cannot say if the suspect asked for money," said Long Beach Sgt. Aaron Eaton, a department spokesman. "The victim has been unable to speak to us. So we are not sure what he has to say."

A business owner said she has seen the man police say is the suspect hanging around in the area and has reported him to police for loitering.

A store customer told NBC4 that he had been approached by the suspect for money before his own car was engulfed in flames while he was inside getting coffee.

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