Sharmeka Moffitt, a 20-year-old African-American woman from Louisiana, is in critical condition and “clinging to life” after being allegedly attacked on Sunday by three members of the “KKK” who set her on fire in what police said could be a hate crime.
According to CBS, Moffitt has third-degree burns on more than half of her body after the men doused her in a flammable liquid and set her on fire in a park in Winnsboro, La. In her statement to police, Moffitt said she used water from a spigot to extinguish the fire as she dialed 911 on Sunday night.
Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Lt. Julie Lewis said the FBI is investigating the attack on Moffitt as a possible hate crime after the letters “KKK,” a reference to the Ku Klux Klan, were written on the hood of Moffitt’s car in white paste believed to be toothpaste. The FBI defines hate crimes as traditional offenses like murder, arson or vandalism, with clear bias.
Lewis said on Monday that no arrests have been made nor were there surveillance cameras in the park where the attack took place. Moffitt said the three men were wearing white hoods when they attacked her on Sunday but could not distinguish their race.
Moffitt remains in critical condition at the LSU Medical Center burn center in Shreveport, La., two days after she was attacked, according to The News-Star. Her mother, Edna, told reporters on Monday that her daughter could be hospitalized for a month or longer.
"Both of her arms, and they are third degree burns, down her chest and legs -- one. Basically her arms are real bad," Edna Moffitt told WAFB.
"I have no idea who did it," she continued. "I want them to pay for what they did to her."
Louisiana State Trooper Albert Paxton said police have gathered DNA from the scene of the attack to identify suspects in the crime.
“We’re analyzing DNA evidence with hopes that we can find some matches,” Paxton said.
Franklin Sheriff Kevin Cobb told the Associated Press the attack was "a horrific event" and said authorities would "follow the facts and seek justice."
“It’s most definitely a horrific event that has created an uneasy feeling in the community,” Cobb said. “These are very unusual and troubling circumstances and won’t be taken lightly. We will follow the facts and seek justice. The best thing we can do now is pray for the victim’s healing and for her family.”
Local NAACP president Otis Chisley told CBS he reached out to Moffitt’s family and noted that hate crimes associated with the KKK still happen in Louisiana.
"It's prevalent throughout Louisiana," Chisley said. "It's hidden, but it exists."
A Facebook page has been dedicated to Sharmeka Moffitt called “Prayers for Sharmeka Moffitt,” which has over 34,000 “likes.”