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Luke "Sasha" Fleishman: Teen charged with hate crimes after allegedly setting gender-identity activist aflame on Calif. bus

Luke "Sasha" Fleischman, 18, recovering from injuries after being set on fire while riding a public bus in Northern California.
Family photo via CBS San Francisco
Luke "Sasha" Fleischman, 18, is recovering from injuries after being set on fire while riding a public bus in Northern California.
Family photo via CBS San Francisco

(CBS) - A teen suspected of setting an 18-year-old gender identity activist on fire on an Alameda County Transit bus in Oakland, Calif. on Monday has been charged as an adult with hate crimes, prosecutors told CBS San Fransisco.

According to police documents, 16-year-old Richard Thomas told police he did it because he was homophobic, reports the station.

The victim, 18-year-old Luke Fleischman, who also goes by the name Sasha, was asleep Monday on the bus when police said Thomas lit the kilt-like skirt he was wearing.Fleischman suffered severe second- and third-degree burns to his lower body. He is listed in stable condition at a San Francisco hospital.

Thomas has been charged with aggravated mayhem and felony assault resulting in serious bodily injury, reports the station. Hate crime clauses were reportedly alleged in both counts against him.

Fleischman's mother Debbie told the Oakland Tribune that her son, a high school senior, doesn't identify as a female or a male, but as nonbinary, an umbrella term covering all other gender identity.

"My son considers himself agender," Debbie Fleischman told the paper. "He likes to wear a skirt. It's his statement. That's how he feels comfortable dressing."

Luke Fleischman has also become a political activist on the issue of nonbinary gender, she said.

"Richard Thomas' violent and senseless criminal conduct resulted in severe and traumatic injuries to a young and entirely innocent victim," Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said in a statement. "The intentional and callous nature of the crime is shocking and will not be tolerated in our community. Our thoughts remain with the victim and the victim's family in wishing for a full recovery from the extensive burns suffered as a result of this crime."