WeHo burning death: No sign it was self-inflicted, officials say
Homicide detectives investigating the burning death of a man who somehow became engulfed in flames at the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval said there is no indication the incident was self-inflicted.
Investigators are studying a YouTube video of the incident, which shows a man engulfed in a ball of fire in the middle of a crowd of people dancing to electronic music at the carnival Thursday night. As the man flails, some bystanders can be heard cheering. Others helped put out the flames.
The victim, who is seen lying unresponsive on the ground after the fire was extinguished, was identified by the coroner’s office as 51-year-old Gilbert Estrada. He was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead Friday morning, according to Lt. Cheryl MacWillie of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
“We don’t know how or what he was doing before he caught fire. I’m sure somebody saw how it happened, there were thousands of people there,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Det. Richard Biddle.
Estrada went to the parade every year, Biddle said his family told investigators. He dressed in a “ghillie suit” this year, a camouflage used to resemble foliage, which may have been made of burlap and twigs, Biddle said.
“He kind of looked like a bush,” Biddle said, adding that Estrada stripped the costume off when it caught fire.
“He was not suicidal or anything like that. There are no indications that it was self-inflicted,” Biddle said.
Estrada’s family has set up a fund to raise money for his funeral and burial costs.
The Halloween carnival draws hundreds of thousands of costumed revelers to the streets of West Hollywood every year. More than 50 performers were scheduled on six stages along the route.
Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.
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