WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A man who has on Wednesday afternoon has died from his injuries, according to the U.S. Park Police.
- The victim was later identified by police officials as Arnav Gupta of Bethesda, Maryland.
- Police officials are still investigating what kind of accelerant the man used and the reason why he lit himself up.
On Wednesday afternoon, a man set himself on fire near the White House. The incident was caught on a video where the man appeared to calmly stroll through a park before cops hurried to extinguish the flames.
Witnesses said the man erupts into a bright orange fireball around 12:20 p.m. at the Ellipse, a 52-acre public park that lies south of the White House and sits north of the Washington Monument.
“We saw this man. He starts running, and then we saw him covered in flames,” 17-year-old Alina Berzins, a tourist visiting the National Mall with her two cousins, told CNBC.
Berzins caught the incident on video and her father shared it to Twitter. In the footage, it shows the man, wearing black pants, covered head to toe in flames as he calmly walks across the grass near 15th Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW.
“According to my daughter…she just saw a person that was on fire running across the White House lawn,” Alina’s dad, Krisjan Berzins, wrote in the caption. “Police and rescue have responded. They’re closing all surrounding streets right now.”
Park Police and the U.S. Secret Service are seen rushing over to the man, including one armed with a red fire extinguisher, and police cruisers pulling up with lights flashing.
Alina Berzins recalled the man collapsed as he was covered with a plume of white foam.
“Everyone was in shock. I was in shock,” Berzins added.
The man was wearing a sweatshirt, despite the 90-degree heat, and carrying a black bag, according to other witnesses interviewed by Fox 5 DC. Some said the shirt had writing on it but no one could make out what it said.
The man, who was later identified by police officials as Arnav Gupta of Bethesda, Maryland, was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries after suffering burns to 85 percent of his body, sources told TMZ. He later died at the hospital.
Officials were also able to recover a suspicious package that was on fire in the park, near where the man set himself on fire.
Source: New York Post