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Homeless Man Intentionally Set on Fire in Oklaoosa County

Fort Walton Beach police want to know who set a homeless man on fire and why they did it. Now other homeless people are afraid they'll be the next target.

The crime scene tape still marks the spot under the Brooks Bridge, where homeless veteran Christopher Hayes found his friend there over the weekend.

"We found Johnnie Roberts laying on his side with his whole backside of his buttocks BURNT, right through, just burnt,” said Hayes. “Somebody lit him on fire. Who do you think would do this to him? I have no idea, ma'am. We have no idea. His nose, he wasn't beat up, but blood was just pouring out of his nose."

Authorities say they found Johnnie Spencer Roberts tied to a pole by his shoelaces. He was unconscious and intoxicated, but, miraculously, he survived.

Because he'd been drinking, Roberts doesn't recall much. Investigators are trying to find out who was with him earlier that day.

"We're hopeful that at least he can give us some information prior to what his recollection was, that may be helpful,” said Capt. Darrell Bruhn with the Fort Walton Beach Police.

Police are calling this incident an intentional attack against a homeless person, but they're not sure if Roberts was a random target, or was attacked by another homeless person. Either way, many in homeless community living in fear.

"Every homeless person in this town is scared right now but at the same time, we're looking who did it too, because it might be me next,” Hayes said. “It's hard for me to even sleep at night."

Police say this is not the first incident for Roberts. He was attacked in 2007 by another homeless person.


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