In a horrifying moment caught on video, a man set himself on fire near the White House on Wednesday, walking around fully engulfed in flames for several seconds before Secret Service and police arrived to extinguish the flames and attempt to save his life. The man died from the wounds Wednesday evening, authorities say. More details about the man, who has since been identified, have emerged.
The man, who U.S. Park Police identified early Thursday as Arnav Gupta, 33, of Bethesda, Maryland, died of his wounds Wednesday evening, Washington D.C.’s WTOP reported Thursday. Gupta had been reported missing earlier Wednesday, family members citing concerns about his “physical and emotional welfare.”
On Wednesday, the Montgomery County Police Department issued the following press release announcing “Concern for Missing Bethesda Area Man”:
Detectives from the Montgomery County Department of Police – 2nd District Investigative Section are asking for the public’s assistance in locating a missing Bethesda area man.
Arnav Gupta, age 33, was last seen by family when he left his Cindy Lane home at approximately 9:20 this morning (Wednesday, May 29).
Gupta is described as an Indian male who is 5’ 9” tall and weighs 200 pounds. He has black hair, brown eyes, a mustache, and wears glasses.
Police are concerned for Gupta’s physical and emotional welfare.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Arnav Gupta is asked to call the Montgomery County Police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (available 24 hours). Callers may remain anonymous.
“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,” the Secret Service tweeted Wednesday.
After authorities put out the flames, Gupta was rushed to a nearby hospital.
“Sgt. Eduardo Delgado, a spokesman for the U.S. Park Police, said the man was in critical condition. Park police assumed jurisdiction because the Ellipse is a national park,” The Washington Post reported Wednesday. “Delgado said authorities are trying to identify the accelerant that was used and determine whether the man has a car parked in the area. He said police do not yet know the man’s identity and don’t know a motive.”
The case has since been turned over to the Washington D.C. police department.
Video of the incident quickly made its way onto social media (warning: disturbing content):