CLACKAMAS, Ore. (KOIN) — A man was arrested less than 24 hours after he allegedly poured gasoline on a man and set him on fire inside a Denny’s restaurant.
DeShaun James Swanger, 24, was taken into custody Thursday night outside of a transitional home he was living in.
Neighbor Buck Sleight told KOIN 6 News he recognized Swanger from surveillance photos taken inside the Denny’s on SE 82nd Avenue and tipped off police.
“As soon as I knew who it was I called authorities,” Sleight said.
Another man who lives with Swanger said he saw a news report on the case and knew he was the suspect. He said he sent police a photo he took of Swanger and waited for officers to show up.
“The phone rang, it was the cops and they were trying to talk to him to come out,” the man said. “He came out, put his hands up, peaceful, put in handcuffs.”
The incident happened around 9 p.m. Wednesday night when Swanger went into the Denny’s restaurant and sat down in a booth next to 69-year-old Scott Ranstrum.
Video from the incident, which hasn’t been released to the public, shows the suspect dumping an “unknown liquid” and item on the victim, causing him to catch fire.
A large flash was then seen and the suspect ran out of the restaurant.
Ranstrum was taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center with critical injuries. His sister, Leslie Kurtz, told KOIN 6 News she’s heartbroken someone would do this.
“I went to see him and I thought, ‘It wouldn’t be that bad, could it?’ No, it’s worse,” Kurtz said. “He’s in critical condition… it’s horrible. Whoever did this is horrible.”
Sgt. Jason Ritter said investigators believe the incident was random. Homicide detectives are handling the case due to the victim’s injuries, according to Ritter.
As of early Thursday, Ritter added there was no indication the attack was a hate crime. However, he cautioned that the investigation was still ongoing.
In a statement, Denny’s officials said:
We are deeply disturbed by the senseless, random act of violence that took place at our franchised-owned Happy Valley restaurant, and our thoughts and prayers are with our guest that was seriously injured. Both guests and team members acted quickly to help this guest and ensure the safety of others in the restaurant. We are actively assisting authorities in their investigation and we ask that anyone with information to please contact the Clackamas County Sheriff’s office at 503-723-4949.”
KOIN 6 News confirmed detectives are investigating a “like-incident” that occurred on Sunday at a movie theater just across the street from the Denny’s location.
The person from Sunday’s incident “refused to press any charges and only gave a vague description of a ‘suspect,’” according to Sgt. Brian Jensen.
Ritter said the 2 incidents were being investigated separately.
Swanger has a lengthy criminal record in Clackamas County. He was previously convicted of burglary, delivery of marijuana, unauthorized use of a vehicle, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office at 503.723.4949.