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Couple arrested setting homeless man on fire with fireworks: We brought our kids to watch

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Couple arrested setting homeless man fire fireworks
What provoked a New Mexico couple in setting a homeless man on fire with fireworks?

New Mexico couple, Joshua Benavidez and Irene Enriquez, both 31 have been arrested after setting a homeless man on fire with fireworks.

At the time of the July 11 incident, the parents brought their 3 children along to watch as they targeted a sleeping homeless man on a sidewalk in Alburquerque, New Mexico.

The victim, identified as Native American man Ruben Abeita, remains in the intensive-care unit at a local hospital after suffering severe burns. 

The couple were arrested Wednesday, after police received dozens of tips.  

The couple according to one local report face three counts child abuse, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, aggravated battery with great bodily harm, tampering with evidence and conspiracy. They are currently being held on $100,000 bond. 

Upon being brought in for booking,  Enriquez told the reporters gathered outside ‘we’re sorry’. 

Added the mother: I feel really bad for the man and his family.’

Couple arrested setting homeless man fire fireworks

In their defense, the couple said they were only trying to ‘rattle‘ the man and didn’t know that he had caught fire until Wednesday. 

‘It was just a prank, it was just trying to scare him, that was it,’ added the father.

Interestingly at the time of the fireworks incident, Benavidez was on probation for aggravated assault on a peace officer and tampering with evidence.

The couple claimed they turned themselves in when they heard that the man was hospitalized.

That said police claim the contrary, insisting that the couple went out of their way not to get caught. 

After receiving dozens of tips, police contacted Benavidez based on information that he owned a purple SUV similar to that caught on CCTV at the scene.

Couple arrested setting homeless man fire fireworks
Irene Enriquez (l) and Joshua Benavidez (r).

When they first talked to Benavidez, the man denied any involvement, telling he had sold his Tahoe to ‘some Hispanic guy in South Valley’, and that it was white – not purple.

However, neighbors said that they had seen the vehicle just a few days before and that it had been purple before being painted white very recently. 

Another tipster, the children’s babysitter said the boy told her that he was with his 8-year-old stepbrother and the couple the day they threw the fireworks. 

Police also discovered that Enriquez saw that the man had caught fire, and wanted to go back and put the flames out with water, but that Benavidez stopped her from doing so. 

Couple arrested setting homeless man fire fireworks

Couple arrested setting homeless man fire fireworks

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