Police video: New Mexico boy witnessed dad set homeless man on fire with fireworks

Joshua Benavidez and Irene Enriquez accused of lightning a homeless man on fire


ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Two parents are accused of throwing fireworks at a homeless man and setting him on fire as their kids looked on.

KRQE News 13 has now obtained the police video that shows just how far those parents went to cover their tracks.

Albuquerque Police said a couple fed them lie after lie. However, they got a different story from a 10-year-old boy, who told officers he was in the car when his dad threw fireworks at a homeless man and set him on fire.

KRQE News 13 warns viewers the police video is graphic. Lapel video from Albuquerque Police officers shows the gruesome scene the day a homeless man was lit on fire with fireworks. It also shows what helped lead to an arrest.

Witnesses called 911 on July 11, 2015, when they spotted a homeless man on fire. Police video shows witnesses pouring water on the man, as he lay on the sidewalk near Highland High.

“He said that somebody lit him on fire,” one witness told the responding officer.

Albuquerque Police said the people in a unique, purple SUV threw fireworks at the homeless man. After surveillance video aired of the SUV leaving the scene, tips led investigators again and again to Joshua Benavidez, 31, and Irene Enriquez, 31.

“So why would your name come up as far as a person of interest with the fireworks stuff going on?” The officer asked Benavidez.

“I don’t know. To be honest with you sir, I don’t know,” Benavidez responded.

Both Benavidez and Enriquez denied having anything to do with it.

“Did you hear anything about that?” An officer asked Enriquez. She shook her head no. “You sure?” The officer continued. Again, Enriquez shook her head silently.

However, detectives said Benavidez’s 10-year-old son confided in a baby-sitter. Officers followed up and interviewed the young boy.

“You’re not in any trouble, buddy, okay?” The officer told the 10-year-old.

“We didn’t mean for that to happen, he meant to just like kind of scare the guy,” the boy told police. “Who did?” The officer asked. “My dad,” he responded.

The boy said his dad was driving, and he and two other kids saw the whole thing.

“He was lighting the firework,” the boy recalled. “I guess the spark caught him or something,” he said, referring to the homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk.

According to a criminal complaint, when the man caught fire, Benavidez didn’t let anyone out of the SUV to try and help.

“So did you see that happen?” The officer asked the young boy. “Yes,” he responded.

“That’s pretty terrible, bud,” the officer said.

“We were kind of scared so we just drove away,” the boy said.

Benavidez told police he recently sold a white SUV, one witnesses said happened to be purple days earlier.

Police video shows officers ask about the incident on different occasions, while Benavidez and Enriquez deny any involvement.

Eventually, they both asked for lawyers and the couple was arrested.

During the little boy’s interview, he told the officer he thought the homeless man went back to sleep, since he continued to lay there on the sidewalk.

The man was later rushed to the hospital with severe burns.

The couple is facing several charges, including three counts of child abuse, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, aggravated battery tampering with evidence. As of Wednesday, they’re still behind bars.

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