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Conflict & Tragedy

Louisiana woman attacked and set on fire in critical condition: Hate crime suspected

UPDATE:

The Franklin Parish Sheriff's Office said that the claims concerning 20-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt's attack are false. FULL STORY...

UPDATE:

New details have emerged concerning the attack on 20-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt. The Winnsboro, La. woman was allegedly attacked at a local park by three men wearing hoodies. Reports say the men confronted Moffitt in the park where she was walking along a trail. The men allegedly began shouting racial epithets at the young woman before one reportedly doused her with a flammable liquid, believed to be gasoline, and then set her on fire.

Initial reports stated that Moffitt was attacked because she was wearing a Barack Obama t-shirt; however, the sheriff's department said that she was not wearing an Obama shirt as was initially reported. Also, station KNOE reported that Moffitt was attacked by three white men but other reports have come from the area that do not state what race the men were; only that she was attacked in the park by three men wearing hoodies.

Authorities did confirm that Moffitt's car had been spray-painted with racial slurs. According to the Shreveport Times, Moffitt's sister, Michelle, said that the letters "KKK" and the "N" word had been painted in white on her sister's car.

Moffitt's mother and sister said that she is "a good person, who is very fun, outgoing and energetic," according to the Times. They also said that they were not sure why anyone would want to hurt her.

“To my knowledge, she has never been threatened... I have never known anything like this to happen in Winnsboro,” said Edna Moffitt, Sharmeka's mother.

Moffitt is still in the Intensive Care Burn Unit at LSU/Shreveport hospital, listed in critical condition with burns over 60 percent of her body. She is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.

Family and friends have set up a Facebook page called Prayers for Sharmeka. The page has already received more than 20,000 Likes.

In addition to local authorities, the FBI is investigating the incident. Authorities have declined to say whether they are officially handling the incident as a hate crime. No arrests have been made and no suspects have been named.

ORIGINAL REPORT:

A Winnsboro, La. woman was allegedly attacked and set on fire for wearing a Barack Obama t-shirt.

The woman has been identified as 20-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt, reportedly sustained burns to more than 90 percent of her body, according to local TV station KNOE. According to the report, authorities received a 911 call around 8 p.m. local time on Sunday from a woman who said that she had been attacked by three white men wearing hoodies.

LSU/Shreveport Hospital has confirmed that Moffitt is in the Intensive Care Unit and her condition is listed as critical.

Police say that Moffitt's car had been spray-painted with racial slurs. Winnsboro Police, Franklin Parish Sheriff, Louisiana State Police, The state fire Marshall's office and the FBI are investigating. Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb described the incident as, "a horrific event that will not be taken lightly."

According to reports, Moffitt was walking along a trail in a local park wearing an Obama t-shirt when she was approached by three white men wearing hoodies who allegedly called her several racial slurs, then threw gasoline on her and set her on fire.

Winnsboro Police Chief Lester Thomas could not be reached for comment.

Family and friends have set up a Facebook page that can be visited here.

This is a developing story. More details will be provided as information becomes available.