On Wednesday, an unidentified man set himself on fire outside of the White House. The incident happened early Wednesday afternoon in front of sightseers on the Ellipse park in downtown Washington, D.C.
The Ellipse is a 52-acre park that is south of the White House in the heart of the capital. The fire was just north of the Washington Monument.
A spokesman for the Washington Fire Department told CNBC that, “I can confirm that we’ve transported one patient with burns from the Ellipse and we’re now on the scene assisting law enforcement.
At approximately 12:20 p.m. a man lit himself on fire on the Ellipse near 15th and Constitution Ave., Secret Service personnel are on scene assisting @NatlParkService and @usparkpolicepio in rendering first aid.
Secret Service spokesman Jeffrey Adams said in a statement that the agency’s Uniformed Division Officers “responded in seconds” after the “male individual lit himself on fire.”
“The individual is being transported to a local hospital,” Adams added.
Now, that man has been identified as Arnav Gupta of Bethesda, Maryland. After being treated for extensive burns at a local hospital, the man passed away.
Just hours before Gupta was hospitalized after lighting himself on fire, he had been reported missing. The Montgomery County Police Department said in a Facebook post that Gupta was last seen by family when he left his home around 9:20 a.m. Police said they were concerned for his physical and emotional welfare.
People in the park were in shock at the sight of the man. He set himself on fire and then began to walk around before falling to the ground.
Alina Berzins, a 17-year-old recent high school graduate from Lorton, Virginia, told CNBC that she was visiting the National Mall with two of her cousins from Bolivia when “we saw this man” on the Ellipse and “he starts running, and then we saw him covered in flames.”
Dozens of law-enforcement officers appeared on the scene. They were soon joined by helicopters overhead and fire department vehicles.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said he could not immediately comment on the incident.
Please pray for his family as they mourn his passing. This is sure to be a terrible shock to them.