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Neighbors worry about Fremont homelessness, crime after man is set on fire

SEATTLE – Police are on the hunt for 31-year-old Christopher Burrus as investigators believe he set a man on fire Tuesday night in Fremont.

The assault happened on Leary Way NW near NW 45th Street and neighbors worry the crime could be connected to other problems in the area.

“The crime we’re witnessing every day and feeling, it’s growing,” said Van Thorfinson.

Thorfinson says his neighborhood is feeling more and more dangerous – especially after Seattle Police say someone set fire to another person.

“It’s unfathomable,” he said. “It’s hard to understand how someone could do this to another person.”

A surveillance camera from a nearby business caught a quick scuffle and a bright flash. It’s the moment where police say a 39-year-old man was doused with flammable liquid and then set ablaze.

Seattle Police homicide detectives believe Burris is the man who set the other man on fire before taking off with his girlfriend. Now investigators are searching for Burrus.

“It just seems like something you would hear about overseas or somewhere else, but now that it’s here, we’re really feeling like it’s time to move forward with a plan of action,” said Thorfinson.

Many people in the community want the plan of action to address what they told Q13 News is an out-of-control homeless population that they believe is connected to other crimes around the area.

Mayor-elect Jenny Durkan tells Q13 News she is working on plans to move homeless people off the streets.

“Everyone wants to make progress on that issue and they want to be part of the solution,” said Durkan. “So that’s why I feel very strongly that we need to move people out of the unsanctioned encampments because it’s just not safe, it’s not human. So that means it’s upon us to get more short term shelters so people can get out of tents and into other shelter.”

The victim in this case was rushed to Harborview Medical Center; on Wednesday, he was listed in critical condition.

Police advise anyone who sees or knows where Burrus is, do not approach him – you’re urged to call 911.