WASHINGTON -- A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the U.S. capital has died of his injuries, which were so severe that authorities will have to use DNA and dental records to identify him, District of Columbia police said Saturday.
The man died Friday night at a Washington hospital where he had been airlifted, Officer Araz Alali, a police spokesman, said.
The man poured a can of gasoline on himself in the center portion of the mall Friday afternoon. He then set himself on fire, with passing joggers taking off their shirts to help douse the flames. Police had said he was conscious and breathing at the scene, but he was airlifted to MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Police are investigating the man's possible motives.
Lt. Pamela Smith of the U.S. Park Police said she was unaware whether he carried signs or had articulated a cause. One witness, Katy Scheflen, said that she saw a tripod set up near the man but that she did not hear him say anything intelligible before he set himself on fire. It was unclear whether the man was filming the incident.
The immolation occurred in a city with jangled nerves following a Sept. 16 mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard and high-speed car chase outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. The chase ended with a woman being shot dead by police with a young child in the car.
Suspends 'fast and furious' activity: A judge has suspended activity in a dispute over documents between the Justice Department and Congress because of the government shutdown. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson granted the Justice Department's request to halt proceedings in the dispute over "Operation Fast and Furious." That was a botched investigation of gun-smuggling in Arizona. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is suing Attorney General Eric Holder. The committee had opposed a delay, saying it has waited for nearly two years for documents it subpoenaed in the dispute. But the judge wrote that while most people have no control over delays in their cases, "that cannot be said of the House of Representatives, which has played a role in the shutdown that prompted" the Justice Department request.
Legion officials say stop using vets: American Legion officials are calling on the White House and members of Congress to stop using veterans in their efforts win over the public during a partial government shutdown. Outside the closed World War II memorial in Washington, American Legion officials said Democratic and Republican lawmakers are using veterans as pawns as they try to build their case with the public. The House has approved stopgap measures to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs during a shutdown. Republicans used the votes to attack Democratic lawmakers in competitive congressional districts. Meanwhile, Democrats largely backed the Obama administration's approach to funding the entire government. To bolster their case, they cited comments from veterans groups criticizing short-term resolutions as "not acceptable." The legion's national commander says he blames all sides for the shutdown.
Ohio man enters plea in D.C. crash: An Ohio man pleaded guilty Friday in Washington to rigging his Jeep so that it would crash, unoccupied, near a White House Secret Service guard booth in June. Joseph Reel of Kettering, Ohio, pleaded guilty to the charge on Friday. Reel faces 35 months in prison under a plea agreement with prosecutors, but U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras will make the final determination. Reel will also pay $5,345 in restitution to the U.S. Park Service for the damage he caused. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 10.