WASHINGTON DC The man who lit himself on fire at the National Mall in Washington D.C. last week was not trying to make a political statement, his family said Tuesday. According to his family, the man suffered from years of mental illness that preceded the event.
On Friday, John Constantino, a 64-year-old man from Mount Laurel, New Jersey, walked onto a center portion of the mall where he poured gasoline over his body and set himself ablaze. Joggers and passers-by subdued the flames using their own shirts. Police said Constantino was breathing and conscious at the scene, but did not make it through the night after being transferred to an area hospital.
"John Constantino was a loving father and husband," the family said in a statement issued through attorney Jeffrey Cox. "His death was not a political act, but was the result of his long battle with mental illness." The family extended thanks to those in the park who tried to save him, including police and paramedics.
They also said they were deeply saddened with his loss, but did not name the illness with which Constantino was afflicted.