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John Constantino identified as man who set himself on fire at National Mall, police say

A firefighter sits in a firetruck near the scene on the National Mall in Washington where a man set himself on fire Oct. 4, 2013. AP Photo

A firefighter sits in a firetruck near the scene on the National Mall in Washington where a man set himself on fire Oct. 4, 2013.
A firefighter sits in a fire truck near the scene on the National Mall in Washington where a man set himself on fire Oct. 4, 2013.
AP Photo
(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - Police have ID'd a man who set himself on fire on the National Mall. Family members say the man suffered from mental illness and was not making a political statement.

John Constantino, 64, of New Jersey, poured the contents of a canister of gasoline on himself in the center portion of the mall Friday afternoon, police said. He then set himself ablaze, with passing joggers taking off their shirts to help put out the flames.

Police had said Constantino conscious and breathing at the scene, but he died later that night at a Washington hospital.

"John Constantino was a loving father and husband. His death was not a political act or statement, but the result of his long battle with mental illness," his family said in a statement issued through attorney Jeffrey Cox.

The statement did not address the nature of the mental illness.

The family said in the statement that it "would like to acknowledge the heroism of the paramedics and bystanders who attempted to save" Constantino.

The family "is shocked and deeply saddened," the statement said. Describing the incident as a "personal family matter and not an issue of public concern," it asked that the media respect its request for privacy.

Complete coverage of the man who set himself on fire on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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