Sasha Fleischman suffered leg burns in an alleged hate crime.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Richard Thomas, 16, a student at Oakland High School, has been charged as an adult and with a hate crime after setting afire the skirt worn by a teenager who identifies as asexual.
Luke “Sasha” Fleischman, 18, is hospitalized in San Francisco with severe burns on the legs. Sasha had fallen asleep on a public-transit bus in Oakland on Monday when the skirt was lit on fire. Sasha and other bus riders put out the flames, but Sasha suffered injuries that will require skin grafting.
Reuters reported that prosecutors charged Thomas with aggravated mayhem, felony assault and a hate-crime “enhancement” after telling a police officer he committed Monday’s attack “because he was homophobic,” according to the criminal complaint.
“The intentional and callous nature of the crime is shocking and will not be tolerated in our community,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a statement.
Sasha is a senior at Berkeley’s Maybeck High School, where the director calls the teen a “wonderful, exceptional student” and “well-liked.” His family and friends are collecting donations to help pay for his medical expenses. To date, they have raised $21,270 HERE at fundly.com.