Teen Neighbor Charged With Burning Elderly Veteran

A Birmingham, Ala., man is in custody, charged with the killing of an an 85-year-old Korean War veteran by allegedly setting him on fire in the backyard of his home., reports.

Birmingham police spokesperson Lt. Sean Edwards said witnesses saw a young man running down the street with a red gasoline jug after a small fire burst into flames in Dacus’ backyard. When police arrived on scene, he was pronounced dead.

Thomas Sims, 18, was charged with capital murder, according to WIAT-TV.

A preliminary investigation found that the suspect set the victim on fire with gasoline after the two had an argument.

Dacus served in the U.S. Army and was known to his neighbors by picking up their trash, cutting their grass and being a friend.

His neighbor, Helen McComb says she ran over to his house to investigate after hearing a commotion.

“I could see something burning. Then a guy ran out yelling somebody had burned up Mr Gene. He’s been here forever. People here loved Mr. Gene” she said.

Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper says the community is mourning a huge loss and is confused to why this happened.

“This homicide shocks the conscience of any reasonable person. Our hearts are hurting for the victim, his family and our community. The suspect actually confessed to this crime but we have not received any logical justification to explain what happened,” he said.