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Woman set on fire in Schenectady

Thursday, July 23, 2009
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— A woman was injured Wednesday evening on Albany Street near Brandywine Avenue after a suspect or suspects lit her on fire before fleeing the scene.

The victim was transported to Albany Medical Center Hospital with injuries to her back, shoulders and side of her face, according to police spokesman Det. Kevin Green. He said he believed that she is a Schenectady resident but did not know much more about her or her condition.

The incident was first reported around 7:45 p.m. behind the Planned Parenthood building on State Street.

“We attempted to talk to her, but she was in a lot of pain,” Green said from the scene.

About a half-hour later, police issued an all-points bulletin to be on the lookout for a tan 1997 Toyota Camry and a gray 1990 Dodge Colt, which witnesses saw fleeing the scene, according to scanner reports. Green said officers stopped the Camry but do not believe it was involved in the incident.

Green was unsure of the motive for the attack. Initial reports attributed the incident to a robbery, but investigators later said the attack may have stemmed from an argument.

A neighbor who did not wish to be identified said he heard yelling and screaming outside and someone saying the woman got burned. He wrote down the license plate numbers of the vehicles fleeing the scene and called police.

It is unclear whether the attackers used an accelerant on the woman. One witness who declined to give her name said she smelled lighter fluid at the scene.

Green said witnesses are cooperating with the investigation. He called the method of attack unusual.

“I can’t remember anything recently or in the past 15 years since I’ve been here,” he said.

A search of The Daily Gazette’s news archive revealed few instances in the Capital Region of people being set on fire.

A Schenectady man suffered burns to his leg in September 2004 when a person ignited the couch he was sleeping on outside a State Street business.

In December 2001, authorities found the body of 67-year-old William Ganseman in his Schodack home. Police said Daniel J. McDonald beat him and then set him on fire. McDonald was convicted in 2003 of second-degree murder and third-degree arson.

 
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