Florida Woman, Asked Not To Panhandle Outside Gas Station, Arrested Accused Of Dousing Clerk With Gasoline; Throwing Lit Matches At Her Until She Caught Fire

A Florida woman who was asked not to panhandle outside a Pensacola gas station is accused of returning to the store later that day and dousing a clerk with gasoline before throwing lit matches at her until she caught fire.

The incident occurred shortly after 1 p.m. at the Circle K gas station at the corner of North W Street and Massachusetts Avenue, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

The clerk survived the attack, thanks to the quick action of a co-worker and store customers who helped to extinguish the flames.

Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said the clerk suffered “serious, horrific, life-threatening” burns and was transported to the hospital. Authorities have yet to release the name of the clerk.

An arrest report released stated the clerk had severe burns to her face, neck, chest and arms and was “in extremely critical condition” at the time that she was flown by helicopter to a burn treatment center. The report noted she was expected to survive.

The woman who allegedly attacked the clerk was taken into custody after authorities deployed a K-9 to track her whereabouts.

Betty Jean McFadden, 30, was questioned by detectives before being placed under arrest on suspicion of attempted murder.

Simmons said there were multiple witnesses to the attack, which was also captured by the gas station’s security cameras.

According to the ECSO, McFadden walked up to the Circle K shortly after 1 p.m. while holding a red gas container. She filled the container with gas from the pump before “calmly walking into the convenience store and dousing one of the clerks with gasoline,” Simmons said.

Covered in gasoline, the clerk started to run from McFadden, who then began “throwing lit matches at her, ultimately catching her on fire,” the sheriff said.

According to the arrest report, the clerk’s body was “completely engulfed in flames.”

McFadden then walked out of the building and around to the back of the store.

Witnesses used clothing and water they found in the store to put out the flames. A second store employee suffered minor burns while helping to extinguish the fire.

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