Vietnam veteran sets himself on fire as a political protest

Published: Nov. 21, 2016 at 9:45 PM CST
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Surveillance video from Angel Falls Coffee shows the Vietnam veteran-- dressed in a Marine Corps uniform--- including a hat-- trying to get into a political conversation with customers.

The owner of the coffee shop said the vet wanted to know who organized recent protests against Donald Trump.

"He seemed to be pro-rally, against Trump and he talked to my customers about how people needed to protest more about Trump," said Jim King.

When no one engaged in the conversation, the veteran left the shop, handed his cell phone to a stranger and told him to record a video. What happened next was horrifying.

"He walks over to his car and grabs a gas can and proceeds to douse himself with gasoline and then light himself on fire," said Lt. Rick Edwards of the Akron Police Department.

The stunned witness did not get a video. Others threw coats on the veteran and put out the fire with an extinguisher.

King said, "He was curled in a fetal position perfectly still except for some hand movement and he was completely coated in ash."

Police say the veteran does not have a criminal record-- and he will not face charges for setting himself on fire.

He has severe burns, and a long road to recovery.

Investigators are treated it a suicide attempt and say his family is stunned.

"I don't think there was any indication that he was going to do something like this, so I think with them being in shock, right now they're just asking for their privacy," said Edwards.