U.S. airman from Texas dies after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy

Police in Washington, D.C., identified the active duty member of the U.S. Air Force as 25-year-old Aaron Bushnell of San Antonio.

By Juliana Kim, NPRFebruary 26, 2024 12:30 pm

From NPR:

Aaron Bushnell, 25, who set himself on fire in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Sunday afternoon, has died in the hospital.

According to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, Bushnell was an active duty member of the U.S. Air Force and based in San Antonio, Texas.

On Sunday, the U.S. Secret Service said it was responding to reports of an individual experiencing a possible medical or mental health emergency. Local police arrived around 1 p.m. ET.

The fire was extinguished, and Bushnell, who sustained “critical life threatening injuries,” was rushed to a local hospital, according to D.C. Fire and EMS.

The Israeli Embassy in D.C. said none of its staff were injured.

As of Monday morning, NPR was not able to independently verify the man’s motives. The incident is currently being investigated by the local police, the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Andrew Leyden, a freelance journalist based in D.C., told NPR on Sunday that he saw burn marks near the Israeli Embassy’s lawn, where the embassy had placed flags to represent the hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7.

Lynn Sweet, the Washington bureau chief at the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote on X that there was a growing police presence outside the Israeli Embassy earlier in the afternoon, including local law enforcement searching a vehicle out of “precaution.”

The Metropolitan Police Department has since cleared the vehicle of any suspicious activity.