FWB Homeless Man Lit on Fire; Investigators Still Looking for Suspect

By: Meagan O'Halloran Email
By: Meagan O'Halloran Email

Fort Walton Beach Police investigators are trying to find out who set a homeless man on fire. The incident happened Saturday afternoon under the Brooks Bridge. Now other homeless people say they're afraid they'll be targeted next.

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

"We found Johnnie Roberts laying on his side with his whole backside of his buttocks burnt, right through, just burnt. Somebody lit him on fire. He wasn't beat up, but blood was just pouring out of his nose" Hayes says.

Authoritis 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.

Captain Darrell Bruhn is hoping to develop more leads after conducting a full investigation.

"We're hopeful that at least he can give us some information prior to what his recollection was, that may be helpful."

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

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

Police say this isn't the first time Roberts has been violently attacked. He was injured back in 2007 at the hand of another homeless man.


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