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Family: Man who set self afire on National Mall mentally ill

Family: Man who set self afire on National Mall mentally ill
Law enforcement officers are near the scene on the National Mall in Washington, where, according to a fire official, a man set himself on fire Friday. The official said the man was flown by helicopter to a hospital. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

WASHINGTON -- The man who died after setting himself on fire on the National Mall on Friday has been identified as John Constantino, 64, of Mt. Laurel, N.J., police said.

"His death was not a political act or statement but the result of his long battle with mental illness," his family said in a statement released to news media by attorney Jeffrey Cox. They did not release any details of his illness.

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Family members said they were "shocked and deeply saddened" by the death of their "loving father and husband."

Witnesses said they saw Constantino pour gasoline over himself and light himself on fire after saluting the Capitol. Four or five men rushed to his aid and used their shirts to try to put out the flames.

Constantino was airlifted to a hospital with severe burns and died several hours later.

In the statement, family members said they "would like to acknowledge the heroism of the paramedics and bystanders who attempted to save his life."

Describing the incident as a "personal family matter and not an issue of public concern," the family asked that the media respect its request for privacy.

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