Police Identify Man Who Set Himself on Fire on National Mall

The man, who witnesses say poured gasoline over his body before setting it ablaze, died of his injuries Friday night.

Police investigate the scene after a man set himself on fire at the National Mall on Friday.
National Journal
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Marina Koren
Oct. 4, 2013, 2:41 p.m.

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.

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