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Deputies: Man pours gas on 69-year-old stranger at Denny's, lights him on fire

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office released this photograph of a man they say lit a customer on fire at a Denny's in Happy Valley. (Photo Clackamas County Sheriff's Office).jpg

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office says a man walked into a Denny's restaurant Wednesday night, threw what was likely gasoline on a customer and then lit him on fire.

The incident happened around 9 p.m. at the Denny’s at 12101 S.E. 82nd Avenue, across from the Clackamas Town Center.

Deputies said they reviewed restaurant surveillance video and saw the suspect sit down in a booth next to the victim. They said they then saw the suspect dump a liquid on the victim and toss a burning object onto him. There was then a large flash, according to the report, before the suspect ran out of the restaurant.

Emergency crews took the 69-year-old victim to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center for burn treatment. The man was in critical condition at last update Thursday morning.

Arriving firefighters reported smelling gasoline inside the restaurant and on the victim, and officials believe the liquid was gasoline.

"This just seems like a, a random act of violence," says Sgt. Jason Ritter with the Clackamas County Sheriff's office.

“It makes you wonder what’s going through the suspect’s head. What makes him do that to a stranger?” customer, Jesse Loyer says.

“I couldn’t believe it… I was like, alright, I come here for breakfast everyone once in a while. I guess it was random so that’s kind of crazy,” says customer, Shawn Rutledge.

Deputies say the suspect then took off running southbound on SE 82nd. The damage inside isn't much, just a small patch on the wall of the booth scorched.

“Saw the burn mark on the wall," Loyer says.

Employees told KATU the victim is a regular at night. Robert Roy's a regular, too, but usually for breakfast.

"Makes me want to watch everywhere I go," Roy says. "Maybe we’ll get a concealed weapons permit, maybe.”

Suspect info:

  • Mid to late 20s
  • 5'10" - 6'0" tall
  • Flat brim hat, black hoodie, gray sweatpants with a black stripe, black shoes
  • (See photo)

Authorities confirmed a second, possibly related incident at the Clackamas Town Center movie theater earlier this week in which someone splashed gasoline on a stranger -- but didn't spark a fire. There were no injuries immediately reported in this case, which deputies are now revisiting.

If you know anything about either of these incidents or the pictured suspect, contact your local law enforcement.

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Below is a statement from a spokesperson for Denny's:

“We are deeply disturbed by the senseless, random act of violence that took place at our franchised-owned Happy Valley restaurant, and our thoughts and prayers are with our guest that was seriously injured.

"Both guests and team members acted quickly to help this guest and ensure the safety of others in the restaurant. We are actively assisting authorities in their investigation and we ask that anyone with information to please contact the Clackamas County Sheriff's office at 503-723-4949."

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