Man in critical condition after being set on fire in Ballard, police searching for suspect

by: Jessica Oh Updated:

SEATTLE - Seattle Police Homicide/Assault detectives are looking for Christopher Burrus, 31, who investigators believe set a man on fire in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood Tuesday night. 

Detectives say Burrus poured a flammable liquid on the 39-year-old victim in the 4500 block of Leary Way Northwest before setting him on fire. As of Wednesday afternoon, the victim is in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center. 

A fight may have sparked the confrontation but investigators aren't sure, according to Seattle Police Detective Patrick Michaud.

"We're working to try and figure out exactly what led up to that and why this escalated to the point that it did," he adds. 

A witness extinguished the flames before first responders arrived. Surveillance video from a business across the street shows a flash, followed by flames. 

Duy Tran was driving past Leary Way Tuesday night when he witnessed the fiery attack.

"I look up and all of a sudden, I see a man that was on fire running out of the building and into the street," he said. "Then I saw a guy come around with some kind of extinguisher and hose him down."

Tran cell phone video of the incident shows a man barely standing up as he drives by. Tran says that was the victim right after the flames were extinguished. 

The people who frequent this area of Ballard say petty crimes are common but an attack like this is rare and disturbing. Brett Vondra works next door repairing bicycles. 

"I don't even know how to react, it's just insane," Vondra said. 

Investigators are urging anyone who recognizes Burrus not to approach him because he's potentially dangerous and unpredictable.


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