The incident happened around 7 p.m. Friday at a store on Pacific Coast Highway. The victim, who was not identified, was sitting on the ground outside the market waiting for his elderly father shopping inside when he was suddenly attacked.
"The suspect came up from an adjacent alleyway and threw a bottle of a flammable liquid," said Sgt. Aaron Eaton of the Long Beach Police Department. "It landed at the feet of the victim and it exploded."
Surveillance video shows a flash as the victim went up in flames and the suspect runs away. A terrified mother ran to pull her child in a stroller out of harm's way. The burning man ran out into the parking lot and a good Samaritan used blankets and jackets to put out the fire.
The victim was medically sedated in critical, but stable condition at the hospital. He suffered serious burns all over his body.
Police said they have no motive for the attack.
"We don't have any idea why this particular person was targeted," Eaton said.
The suspect was described as a male Hispanic 25 to 30 years old, about 5-foot-9 and around 180 pounds. He was wearing a light-colored short-sleeve shirt with vertical stripes.
Police said they hope the public will be able to help them catch the suspect.
"The suspect is callous," Eaton said. "Somebody who has that kind of hatred in their mind and use that type of a weapon, this particular suspect we need to get into custody as soon as possible."
Anyone with information was asked to call police at (562) 570-2582.