February 1st, 2007 - When the stranger ran up behind Gus Jones in downtown Seattle Wednesday and dumped liquid on his back, Jones, 82, said he immediately recognized the odor of lighter fluid.
Jones hollered and whacked Paul Pearson with his metal cane, which he believes prevented Pearson from hurling a match at him.Two women standing a short distance away weren't so lucky.
The attacker turned from Jones and sprinted several feet toward the women at the corner of Third Avenue and Union Street. After dousing them with lighter fluid, Pearson managed to set the women on fire, according to Seattle police.
The women, 41 and 35, weren't seriously injured, police said. Both said that their hair and jackets were singed, Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel said.
"They got lit on fire, but it sounds like it burned the back of their jackets and hair," Kappel said. "They were treated and released from the scene."
Several witnesses grabbed Pearson, 50, and held him until police arrived, Kappel said. Pearson was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of assault. Police didn't immediately know of any motive for the bizarre attacks.
"He's got no relation to any of the victims," Kappel said.
Jones said he had just left his doctor and was walking to the post office when someone grabbed his shoulder. Jones said he thought it was his son, but when he smelled the lighter fluid on his coat and heard strangers yelling, he knew something was wrong.
Jones said he fell to the ground after hitting Pearson so hard that it bent his cane. He said Pearson never said anything to him.
"I'm pretty peeved about this. I feel as though people like this shouldn't be out on the street," Jones said. "This man was crazy."
Jones, who retired to Seattle after owning a grocery store in San Francisco, served with the Navy in the Pacific during World War II. He uses a cane because of recent hip surgery.
"I'm not a tough guy; I don't bother nobody and nobody bothers me," he said. "But if somebody is going to harm you, you got to harm them."
(taken from The Seattle Times)