Man sets himself on fire on US university campus after ‘mental episode’
A man set himself on fire at the University of California at Berkeley in the US on Wednesday during an alleged severe mental health episode, the New York Post reported.
The incident was captured on video and has since gone viral, with more than 350,000 views on social media platforms.
The incident was reported to authorities at 4:17 p.m. local time after the man, who has not been named, was seen walking at Sproul Plaza on campus completely engulfed in flames.
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Bystander videos that have surfaced online show onlookers trying to help the man by pouring water on him and swatting at the flames with their jackets.
Took my son on a recruitment visit for UC Berkeley football and saw this after we got lunch pic.twitter.com/Gli0r1gK1T— Joe Fasho (@JoeFash0) March 2, 2023
Despite their efforts, the victim did not respond to their pleas to get on the ground, continuing to wander around in full view of horrified passersby.
Officers with the UC Berkeley Police Department and Berkeley firefighters arrived and managed to get the situation under control, after which the victim was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland.
According to the Berkeley Scanner, the victim, believed to be in his 20s, suffered second-and third-degree burns over most of his body.
A woman in her 40s who attempted to help the man was also hospitalized with minor injuries, while another good Samaritan who tried to render aid was treated for burns at the scene and released.
Eyewitness Tony Delacruz, who saw the incident unfold, told local news outlet Berkeleyside that the man seemed "indifferent" to the fire and was lashing out at bystanders around him.
Rachel Diao, another witness, told the Berkeley Scanner that the man was shouting "Mormon Mafia" and was running from and pushing away those trying to extinguish the flames.
"I could feel the heat coming off of him, and I saw his skin and clothes burn off," Diao recalled. A local business owner eventually ran up to the victim and doused him with a fire extinguisher. By then, the fire had burned through the man's shirt and pants, and responding officers struggled to get the victim on the ground.
UC Berkeley officials have not confirmed whether the victim was affiliated with the university. The incident is being investigated by the campus police.
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