Homeless attack in Grants Pass stuns police, friend of victim

GRANTS PASS, Ore. —The Grants Pass Police Department is asking for the public’s help identifying a suspect, accused of setting a tent on fire, with a person inside.

“I’ve worked for the Grants Pass Police Department for four years and this is the first time I’ve seen an arson attack like this,” said Lieutenant, Jeff Hattersley.

This was the scene last week at Baker Park in Grants Pass. You can see the tent catching fire near the top of the screen. Police say a hooded suspect, threw a flaming liquid substance onto a tent and ran.

“I was just sitting in my tent folding my clothes and out of nowhere I heard a loud pop, like boom, it was so strong that I felt the vibrations from it at my tent,” said one houseless person.

Kassie, houseless herself, has been camping at the park for the last month. She’s good friends with the owner of the tent, Andrew, and says she was only 200 feet away from the area moments before it went up in flames.

“I went over there and when I saw the flames, the first thing I immediately looked to see if I could see a body, to see if he was in there,” she said.

A woman was inside the tent at the time but wasn’t seriously harmed in the attack, according to police. Police believe the owner of the tent was specifically being targeted.

“Literally the person has a flaming substance similar to a molotov cocktail and threw it on threw it on the victim’s tent,” said Lieutenant Hattersley.

GPPD says the suspect ran from Baker Park toward the intersection of East Park Street and Grants Pass Way. Police aren’t certain if this suspect is male or female because of a mask, but say the person appears to have the build of a man.

“After I heard that pop the man just walked by here and went straight back into what we call the boonies back there and this person, a few days prior,  had disrespected Andrew, said Kassie.

Kassie says a few days before, Andrew had gotten into an argument with someone she believes to be the suspect. She thinks this was an act of revenge.

“We’re all out here in the same situation, we all struggle for food, warmth, and safety we all should work together instead of fighting against that,” she said.

Police say if you have any information about the suspect, call 541-450-62-60.

NBC5 News Reporter Jenna King is a Burbank native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at the U of O, she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through interning with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors, or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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