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Sharmeka Moffitt, La. woman allegedly set on fire by three men, claims attack was racially motivated, authorities say

(CBS/AP) NEW ORLEANS - Sharmeka Moffitt, a 20-year-old African-American woman, is in critical condition with burns on more than half her body, after she claims she was set on fire Sunday by three men who wrote the initials "KKK" and a racial slur on her car in northeastern Louisiana.

Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Lt. Julie Lewis said officers responded to Moffitt's 911 call Sunday night and the FBI is investigating the attack as a possible hate crime. However, no arrests had been made as of late Monday, Lewis said.

Moffitt, who suffered third-degree burns, told police the men doused her in a flammable liquid and set her on fire at a park in Winnsboro, a town in Franklin Parish. Lewis said she extinguished the fire using water from a spigot before a police officer arrived.

Lewis said officers found the letters KKK - an apparent reference to the Ku Klux Klan - and a racial slur smeared in a paste-like substance on the hood of her car, Lewis said.

Lewis said Moffitt described her attackers as three men wearing white hoods, but was unable to say what race her attackers were.

A Winnsboro Police officer who responded to her 911 call found no suspects or vehicles at Civitan Park where the attack allegedly happened, and the park has no surveillance cameras. Lewis said the state crime lab was analyzing several pieces of evidence.

Franklin Sheriff Kevin Cobb called it "a horrific event" and said authorities would "follow the facts and seek justice."

Otis Chisley, the president of the local branch of the NAACP, said he was in touch with Moffitt's distraught family. He said he was waiting for more facts before drawing any conclusions about what happened and that "everyone wants to move with caution."

Regardless of the investigation's outcome, Chisley said that racism and KKK activity remain a fact of life in the state.

"It's prevalent throughout Louisiana," he said. "It's hidden but it exists."

  • Crimesider Staff

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