A D.C. man at the National Mall Friday deliberately ignited himself on fire in a shocking scene of self-immolation, reports NBC News on Oct. 4. Details are still emerging, but law enforcement and medical personnel who rushed to Washington’s National Mall confirmed that the man set himself on fire in front of dozens of onlookers.
Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson, Officer Hugh Carew, said the man is alive. He was airlifted to the hospital and remains in critical condition.
Witness Adam Stifel witnessed the terrifying scene, which occurred Friday afternoon near the National Air and Space Museum.
“I saw a man sitting in flames,” Stifel said. “He had already doused himself in gasoline, I believe.”
Visitors to the National Mall were the first to respond, and actually used their shirts and other articles of clothing to pat the flames out on the man.
"I was crossing the street and didn't see him pour the gas or light the match, but saw the flames move up from the middle of his body to his arms," eyewitness Vanessa Sink, a D.C. resident, reported. "The guy on fire collapsed after a few steps that looked like flailing dancing, and a runner raced over to him. He tried to knock him over to roll him around, but it seemed he couldn't get close because of the flames."
Sink said a jogger ran over and took off his shirt and assisted in pounding down the flames. "Other people poured water on him and others called 911," Sink said.
It’s unclear as to the identity of the man or his motive. The incident occurred just a few blocks from where a woman attempted to ram White House barriers and was shot dead Thursday by Capitol Police, after leading officers on a car chase through the Capitol.
UPDATE Oct. 5: Witnesses say the man had an accomplice, who filmed the entire incident.