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5199 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. #608
Post Office Box 15679
Long Beach California, 90815-0679
Phone: (562) 597-8000
Fax: (562) 597-9410
Breaking News

Man Dies After Being Set on Fire by Transient

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 7

7-Eleven fire with arson suspect in custody.
Beachcomber: All Rights Reserved


The Los Angeles Coroner's Office has confirmed that the victim of a transient-set fire that burned the man – while sitting in his car – died at 2 a.m. today at a Torrance hospital.

A 38-year-old black homeless man – Raymond Sean Clark – was in police custody Friday night after tossing a flammable substance onto another black male as he sat in his car outside the 7-Eleven store at Pacific Coast Highway and Clark Avenue in Long Beach.

The 5:08 p.m. incident occurred as Beachcomber Publisher Jay Beeler was exiting his nearby offices, observed the black smoke and videotaped the inferno, which was shared with multiple news media outlets nationwide.

See Beachcomber's copyrighted video here

The 63-year-old victim – Jerry Arnold Payne – was sitting in his Toyota 4-Runner at the time and is believed to have declined the transient’s request for money. He suffered third degree burns to his chest and face with his orange T-shirt burned off his body; he was taken to a local hospital by paramedics.

KCBS-TV late Saturday said Payne's fiance happened upon the crime scene afterward and recognized his car. Payne had an address few blocks away in the 1400 block of Anaheim Place. He was known to frequent the store and help out the homeless when asked, even to the point of going home for a jacket for a homeless person on a cold night.

Payne was being treated at Torrance Memorial Hospital, which specializes in treating burn patients.

Witness Robert Linkroum of Long Beach said that he went into the store to purchase a newspaper and saw the suspect toss something into the car window and it immediately burst into flames, trapping Linkroum and other patrons inside the 7-Eleven as flames engulfed the store’s front entrance. The clerk eventually found a key that allowed them to escape out a back door.

Local attorney Ed Beaulac also witnessed the incident and took a video of the victim lying on the ground after being pulled from the vehicle by good samaritans. Beaulac quickly took his child home, circled back and found the suspect in nearby Park Estates. He monitored the suspect until police took him into custody.

Maralyn diPiazza of the nearby diPiazza’s Restaurant told the Beachcomber that she has often seen the suspect in the area along with other transients who frequent the 7-Eleven store.

The green 4-Runner was destroyed in the fire and a white Nissan Altima parked next to it was extensively burned on the driver's side. The fire also extended into the 7-Eleven store's eaves before firemen arrived to dose the inferno.

Clark is being held on a $502,200 bail under charges of attempted murder and two misdemeanor failure to appear warrants. Monday afternoon the LBPD reported that Clark would be re-booked for murder and a new bail amount has yet to be determined.

Investigators reviewed the 7-Eleven store video and determined that there are several witnesses who have not yet spoken to police. If you witnessed this incident or have information to provide, please call Homocide Detectives Scott Lasch or Donald Goodman at (562) 570-7244. Anonymous tips may be submitted by visiting