Police have identified the man who set himself on fire on the National Mall last week, but his motive for doing so remains unclear, the Associated Press reports.
John Constantino, 64, of Mount Laurel, N.J., died Friday night at MedStar Washington Hospital Center after he poured gasoline over his body and set it ablaze near Madison and 7th streets. His burns were so severe that authorities had to use DNA and dental records to identify him.
An attorney who represents the victim’s family said in a statement Monday night that Constantino’s actions were the result of “a long battle with mental illness,” not a desire to send a political message.
A witness told AP that “she was walking along the Mall when she saw a man by himself pick up a can of gasoline and empty its contents on his head before setting himself ablaze.” Passing joggers stripped off their shirts and used them to attempt to subdue the flames. The man was then airlifted to the hospital, where he died.