Man who set himself ablaze, dies

2013-10-06 08:41


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Washington - A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died of his injuries, which were so severe that authorities will have to use DNA and dental records to identify him, District of Columbia police said on Saturday.

The man died on Friday night at a Washington hospital where he had been airlifted, Officer Araz Alali, a police spokesperson, said.

The man poured the contents of a red canister of gasoline on himself in the centre portion of the National Mall on Friday afternoon. He then set himself on fire, with passing joggers taking off their shirts to help put out the flames. Police had said he was conscious and breathing at the scene, but he was airlifted to MedStar Washington Hospital Centre.

Police are investigating the man's possible motives. Lieutenant Pamela Smith of the US Park Police said she was unaware whether he carried signs or had articulated a cause.

One witness, Katy Scheflen, said she did not hear the man say anything intelligible before he set himself on fire. But she said she did notice that another man with a tripod was standing nearby and had disappeared by the time the police had arrived. It was not immediately clear whether a recording exists.

"He appeared to be waiting for something to happen. After it happened, he was gone," Scheflen, a Justice Department lawyer, said on Saturday of the man with the tripod.

"I can't say what the connection was between them or whether there was a connection," she added.

The fire occurred in a city with jangled nerves following a mass shooting on 16 September at the Washington Navy Yard that left 13 dead, including the gunman, and a high-speed car chase outside the US Capitol on Thursday. The chase ended with a woman being shot dead by police with a young child in the car.

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