Man Who Set Himself On Fire in D.C. Identified

Motive still unclear after he died

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Officials have identified a man who self-immolated on the National Mall in Washington last week and later died, but it’s still unclear why he did it.

Authorities say John Constantino, 64, of Mount Laurel, N.J., doused himself with gasoline on Friday in a central part of the park and set himself on fire in front of passersby, who tried to douse the flames. Police said he was conscious at the scene and died at a hospital that night. But he was burned so badly that DNA and dental records were needed to identify him, the Associated Press reports.

What is unclear to police is his motive. U.S. Park Police Lt. Pamela Smith told the AP that she did not know of any signs he carried or that he spoke of any reasons for what he did. Katy Scheflen, a Justice Department attorney who was nearby, did not hear him say anything before setting the fire. But she said  another man with a tripod was standing nearby and had disappeared before police got there.

“He appeared to be waiting for something to happen,” she said. “After it happened, he was gone.”