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Ohio Anti-Trump Protestor Sets Self On Fire In Public Square

A 69-year-old Akron man wearing a U.S. Marines uniform doused himself in gasoline and set himself ablaze on a Highland Square street Saturday morning.

Witnesses said the self-immolation occurred moments after the man became increasingly agitated while ranting to strangers about the need to protest President-elect Donald Trump.

It was unclear whether the man, who had not been publicly identified, would survive. Police said he was taken to Akron Children's Hospital with severe burns. A passer-by who tried to save the man by extinguishing the flames with his coat was not injured.
 link to www.ohio.com

Man, 69, sets himself on fire in Highland Square moments after ranting about President-elect Trump

By Amanda Garrett
Beacon Journal staff writer
Published: November 19, 2016 - 08:13 PM | Updated: November 19, 2016 - 11:35 PM

A 69-year-old Akron man wearing a U.S. Marines uniform doused himself in gasoline and set himself ablaze on a Highland Square street Saturday morning.

Witnesses said the self-immolation occurred moments after the man became increasingly agitated while ranting to strangers about the need to protest President-elect Donald Trump.

It was unclear whether the man, who had not been publicly identified, would survive. Police said he was taken to Akron Children's Hospital with severe burns. A passer-by who tried to save the man by extinguishing the flames with his coat was not injured.

The incident unfolded about 2 miles west of downtown Akron in a neighborhood that hosted an anti-Trump rally late Tuesday night that drew several hundred people.

According to witnesses interviewed, this is what happened Saturday:

A man wearing cloth gloves, blue pants with a red stripe, a military hat and coat walked into Angel Falls Coffee about 9:20 a.m. and approached a table where four or five regulars were hanging out.

"Does anyone know who organized the recent protest against Trump?" the man asked.

When the group told him they didn't know, the man in uniform started to explain why the nation needed to protest Trump.

"For less than a second, he was calm," said Denise Bowman, one of the regulars at the coffee shop table. "But then he became agitated. His tone changed, his body language changed and he got loud."

The 69-year-old man told the group he gave blood for his country and listed aloud all the places he said he served. Soon, the man's language turned vulgar and a coffee shop patron asked him to tone it down because there were children nearby. The request only made the man more agitated.

"He said 'I have a f---ing gun, you S.O.B., and I'm not afraid to use it,' " Bowman said.

The uniformed man leaned into the table and pulled back the flap of his coat, as if to show a weapon. It's unclear if he had a gun, Bowman said. She couldn't take her eyes off his face.

Afraid now, people started to back away and the man clearly frustrated and upset walked out of Angel Falls about 9:25 a.m., telling customers to enjoy their coffee.

One of the customers found Jim King, who co-owns Angel Falls, and told him he was worried about the man who left. King and the customer went outside to check on the uniformed man, who had walked around the corner onto South Highland Avenue. But it was too late.

Horrifying sight

The man approached a passer-by whom witnesses identified as a 30-something Highland Square resident named Mike on the side street behind Ohio Brewing Co. and asked him to take his picture, offering his own phone. But Mike never took a photo.

Before Mike knew what was happening, the 69-year-old grabbed a canister of gasoline from his car, soaked himself in fuel and set himself ablaze, witnesses said.

Bowman said she saw Mike using his coat to try to put out the flames when she was walking to her car.

The uniformed man, still on fire, collapsed on the South Highland devil strip near an apartment building a few feet from West Market Street, she said.

People who live nearby rushed out with fire extinguishers just as King turned the corner from his coffee shop to witness the aftermath.

The man was badly burned and had curled into the fetal position, King said.

"He had been wearing cloth gloves and they were burned off," King said. "Part of his clothes burned away, too."

King said he knelt next to the injured man.

"I didn't touch him. No one did. We didn't know what to do," King said.

The burned man didn't say anything, King said. "He barely moved an inch."

'Why, why, why?'

Bowman, meanwhile, said she tried to comfort Mike.

"I went over to hug him and I didn't want to let go," Bowman said. "He just kept asking, 'Why, why, why?' "

Mike told Bowman he was going to take a bus to his aunt's house, but King intervened. One of his regular customers at Angel Falls is a social worker and he asked the woman to drive the man to his family's for comfort.

An ambulance, police and firefighters arrived within five minutes.

The badly burned man was still holding the lighter he used to set himself on fire, police said.

On Saturday evening, the residue from fire extinguishers still covered leaves in the devil strip.

King said nerves have been on edge in Highland Square since the election.

Bowman wasn't part of Tuesday's anti-Trump march, but she said news of the protests across the country worried her.

"And now that I've seen this, a suicide attempt with a veteran. I'm scared," she said. "I don't know what's going to happen next."

Bowman said she planned to light a candle and pray for the burned man Saturday night.

"All I can say is God help us and help Trump, too," Bowman said. "God help our country."

homepage: homepage: http://www.ohio.com/news/local/man-69-sets-himself-on-fire-in-highland-square-moments-after-ranting-about-president-elect-trump-1.728435
address: address: The Akron Beacon Journal