Couple Arrested for Allegedly Throwing Lit Fireworks at Homeless Man

Albuquerque,New Mexico--Police arrested a couple in Albuquerque after they allegedly threw lit fireworks at a homeless man from their car with their children watching from inside the SUV.  

The incident happened about two weeks ago, but according to police, the victim, Ruben Abeita, is still in the hospital ICU with serious burns.

Thirty-one-year-old suspects Joshua Benavidez and Irene Enriquez said they were trying to play a prank and scare the man, the NY Daily News reports. The couple said did not intend on hurting the man.

“Our prayers are with him,” Enriquez told KOB-TV Wednesday as she was being led to the police station. “It was just meant to scare him.”

According to police, the couple’s three children – a 10-year-old, 12-year-old and 2-year-old – witnessed the entire incident. Police say the 10-year-old boy told them the man’s pants were “smoldering,” and that Enriquez wanted to pour some water on him. However, according to KOB, the family waited for the homeless man to go back to sleep before fleeing the scene. 

“I want to apologize to my children and my family and the man that was hurt,” Benavidez told KOB from the back of the police car. “It was just a prank. I was just trying to scare him. That was it.”

Surveillance video from a nearby camera captured the encounter around 8 p.m. on July 11. In the footage, viewers can see the suspects’ purple Chevy Tahoe with rims and taillights – a distinct vehicle difficult to miss. There is a spark and an explosion, and the SUV then jolts forward.

“It’s absolutely disgusting,” Daren DeAguero, the Albuquerque police spokesman, said in an interview with the Albuquerque Journal. “It was a disgusting act to light someone on fire and run from it.”

After releasing the video to the public, police said they received many tips. The NY Daily News reports the suspects’ neighbors told police Benavidez recently painted the vehicle white. KOB-TV said the suspect told police the allegations were false, and that the white Tahoe was a different vehicle he recently sold to “some Hispanic guy in the South Valley.”

Both Benavidez and Enriquez were arrested on charges of aggravated battery. They are also being held on three counts of child abuse, since their children were in vehicle when they threw the fireworks.

According to the NY Daily News, Benavidez was already on probation at the time this crime was committed. He is now being held on a $100,000 bond.

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