A former employee of the University of Washington in Seattle poured gasoline on himself and set himself on fire in the middle of campus Thursday afternoon, the Daily reports. The man, 61, later died of his injuries at a nearby hospital.
Police did not identify the man, except to say he had not been a professor. He had been employed at the university as recently as two weeks ago, but there were no details of the circumstances of his resignation or dismissal.
Passersby described the scene to the Daily:
Justin Norman, a UW alumnus and cartoonist, was walking through Red Square before the police were on the scene and said he noticed a group of three to four people huddled and crouched around the blocks in the middle of the square.
Norman said that the group looked inconspicuous until suddenly a 10-foot high flame shot up, filling the entire center of the Square.
"It didn't look like it was intentional at all," Norman said. He said that when the flames shot up, several people screamed and scattered from the center of the square, one with a sleeve on fire, before turning back to assist a man stuck [sic] the center of the flames.
"It wasn't until the flames died down that you could tell it was a person," Norman said, who was taking photographs of the event. "Then [you could] see a guy engulfed in flames" and "people trying to put him out."
Norman's camera was later confiscated by authorities at the scene.
Jason Chen, a senior, was in Odegaard Undergraduate Library when the fire occurred. He said he heard some commotion, then a man "wearing boxer shorts" and nothing else ran in yelling, "Someone is on fire, get help now."
The unclothed man then grabbed a fire extinguisher before running back out, followed by a small crowd, Chen said.