Man Who Set Self on Fire on National Mall Identified

The death of a New Jersey man who set himself on fire on the National Mall was the result of his long fight with mental illness, not a political statement, his family said, reports The Associated Press.

John Constantino, 64, of Mount Laurel (NJ) 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 was 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 lawyer Jeffrey Cox.

After he set himself on fire, there was speculation about whether his self-immolation was an effort to protest the federal government shutdown, President Barack Obama's health insurance overhaul, or anything else.

The statement did not address the nature of the mental illness, and Cox said he did not know Constantino's occupation or other biographical details. He also said that funeral arrangements had not been finalized.

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

Read more of the story here http://abcn.ws/1aiMCdA

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