Charges: Man started tent of double amputee at homeless encampment on fire

A Minneapolis man has been charged with attempted murder and assault after allegedly starting a tent on fire that an amputee was sleeping in at a homeless encampment.

Court records show Anthony Curtis Leikas, 33, was charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault on Friday.

On Dec. 5, just before 1 a.m., officers from the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) were called to an area near Glenwood Avenue and Twins Way on a report that a 57-year-old wheelchair-bound man had been set on fire, according to a criminal complaint.

At the scene, officers found the man, who is a double-amputee, lying on the ground with severe burns to his body. Law enforcement also noticed the victim’s badly burned wheelchair nearby.

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Before being brought to the hospital, the victim told law enforcement someone had started his tent on fire and he had been burning for quite some time, adding that he heard Leikas say “burn in hell” as he started the fire.

Surveillance footage of the scene showed Leikas stopping by the victim’s tent before walking away as the tent quickly went up in flames, the complaint states. Officials say the fire was started about an hour before law enforcement arrived at the scene.

Using surveillance video, law enforcement tracked Leikas as he walked to a gas station on Fifth Street North. Images from inside the gas station match images of Leikas at the scene, according to the complaint.

Leikas was arrested by MPD on Thursday. He initially denied witnessing the fire but later admitted to seeing it burn, saying two other witnesses had started the fire with cigarette butts, charging documents state.

The victim is currently in the hospital in critical condition, but officials do not expect him to survive as 85-90% of his body is burned.

Leikas was due in court for a first appearance on Friday afternoon.