Published October 05, 2013
A District of Columbia police spokesman says a man who set himself on fire on the National Mall has died of his injuries.
Officer Araz Alali says the man died Friday night at a Washington hospital where he had been airlifted.
He says the man was so badly burned that he will need to be identified through DNA and dental records.
The man poured a can of gasoline on himself in the center portion of the mall Friday afternoon. He then set himself on fire, with passing joggers taking off their shirts to help douse the flames.
The reason for the self-immolation was not immediately clear and the man's identity was not disclosed. But it occurred in public view, on a central national gathering place, in a city still rattled by last month's mass shooting at Washington Navy Yard and a high-speed car chase outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday that ended with a woman being shot dead by police with a young child in the car.
He was standing by himself in the center portion of the Mall when he emptied the contents of a red gasoline can on himself and set himself on fire moments later, said Katy Scheflen, who witnessed it as she walked across the area.
Scheflen said the man was clearly alive as the fire spread, and passing joggers took off their shirts in an effort to help put out the flames. It was not clear who actually extinguished the flames.
Lt. Pamela Smith of the U.S. Park said she was unaware that he carried any signs or had articulated a cause. Scheflen said she saw a tripod set up near the man but did not hear him say anything intelligible before he set himself on fire. It was unclear if he was filming the incident.
The Associated Press contributed to this report