Los Angeles County police responding to an early morning rubbish fire later discovered a homeless man had been sleeping inside the burned boxes.
They also claim the alleged arsonist, 32-year-old Richard Smallets, knew there was someone inside the cardboard boxes he set afire. He even took photos as the homeless man poured bottle water on the flames before making a successful escape.
Smallets is being held on $1 million bond on attempted murder charges.
The attack happened early Sept. 12, shortly before officers from the Glendale Police Department joined fire-fighters in tending to a 1:22 a.m. sidewalk fire.
According to police, it wasn’t until they looked at security camera footage later that afternoon that they discovered the fire was deliberately set by Smallets, who documented his brazen act on film. The homeless man reportedly awoke to the smell of smoke before he could be engulfed in flames.
“Detectives continued their investigation and contacted a male, identified as Richard Smallets, at Central Park,” Glendale Police reported on Facebook. “After questioning Smallets, detectives connected him to the arson investigation and he was subsequently placed under arrest.”
It’s unclear if the victim and the alleged arson knew one another. Smallets has pleaded not guilty.