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Man who set himself on fire on the Mall suffered from mental illness

- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2013

Metropolitan Police on Monday night identified a man who died after setting himself on fire on the Mall.

Police said John Constantino, 64, of Mount Laurel, N.J., set himself ablaze around 4:20 p.m. Friday at 7th Street and Madison Drive in the center of the Mall. An ambulance arrived on the scene about three minutes later and found Mr. Constantino suffering from life-threatening injuries.

"It is now apparent that he set himself on fire," police said in a statement.

His family said through an attorney that they were "shocked and deeply saddened" by Mr. Constantino's death.

"His death was not a political act or statement, but the result of his long battle with mental illness," said a  statement, released by attorney Jeffrey Cox.

Witness Katy Scheflen told The Associated Press 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.

She said passing joggers took off their shirts to help douse the flames.

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