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Minneapolis man charged with attempted murder after allegedly lighting woman on fire pleads not guilty

Richard Edwin Bullock Photo: Hennepin County
Richard Edwin Bullock

Updated: January 14, 2020 04:33 PM

A Minneapolis man who authorities say allegedly lit a woman on fire pleaded not guilty on Monday, according to court records. 

Richard Edwin Bullock, 46, was charged with one count of second-degree attempted murder with intent, one count of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree assault.

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According to the criminal complaint, on Monday, Sept. 16, officers responded to North Memorial Hospital on a report of a victim being lit on fire. Minneapolis police officers observed the victim, identified as Sharee Smith, was severely burned over a large part of her body and also had injuries consistent with a physical assault. 

Officers learned a witness observed the attack on the victim. According to the witness, Smith and her boyfriend, identified as Bullock, were inside of an RV which was parked in the 5100 block of Colfax Avenue North. Between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., the witness was inside a residence close to the RV when she heard arguing from inside the camper. She approached the RV and reported that Smith looked scared and as if she wanted the witness to enter the RV. When she entered the RV, she saw Bullock and Smith sitting at a table, drinking.

The complaint states Bullock all of a sudden jumped up and said to Smith, "(Expletive), I told you about disrespecting me." He then punched Smith several times in the face and grabbed her by the throat, strangling her. Bullock reportedly told Smith while he was strangling her, "that's your life leaving your body." Bullock had strangled her four times to the point that she would go unconscious. When Smith would stop moving, Bullock would let go, Smith would start breathing and then Bullock would strangle her again.

Minneapolis man charged with attempted murder after allegedly lighting woman on fire

According to the witness, he then grabbed a metal object and hit her head and body. During the assault, both Smith and the witness were pleading Bullock to stop. Then, Bullock told Smith he was going to set her on fire. He grabbed a bottle of rubbing alcohol and doused her with it, struck his lighter and engulfed her body in flames. He then dumped water on her and took her clothes off in an attempt to put out the flames, the complaint reads.

Smith was able to flee and drive herself to North Memorial Hospital early Monday morning, according to her family. Minneapolis police say she told emergency crews, "help me somebody lit me on fire." When she arrived at the hospital, she emerged from the car completely nude, and her body and hair still smoldering. She was hospitalized and treated for multiple second- and third-degree burns. 

After she left, the witness went inside the residence near the RV with Bullock following her. He reportedly told her, "Cross me and you can get the same." He then pointed a pink handgun at the witness's head and threatened to kill her and her family. He told her, "You're a witness, you will not make it to trial to testify against me." According to the complaint, Bullock got his phone and made arrangements to get picked up and left the residence. 

Officers from the Minneapolis Violent Criminal Apprehension Team located Bullock exiting a residence located about a mile away from where the RV incident occurred. Officers moved in to arrest Bullock and he took off running through the backyard. He was eventually apprehended and placed under arrest. Arresting officers observed burns and blisters on his hands. 

After a search warrant was executed at the residence Bullock was seen coming out of, a pink handgun was located.

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