US Service Member Dies After Setting Himself Ablaze

( – On the afternoon of Sunday February 25, Aaron Bushnell, a 25-year-old United States Airman, set himself on fire in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. Local police and fire department were called to the scene but by the time they arrived, the fire had already been extinguished by US Secret Service officers. Bushnell was rushed to the hospital in critical condition but has since died from his injuries. The Secret Service say their uniformed division were originally sent out to the scene to investigate an incident of a person having a medical or mental health emergency.

The DC police also sent an explosive ordnance disposal team as there were reports of a suspicious vehicle on the scene that may have been in some way connected with Bushnell. On Monday, the Air Force confirmed that Bushnell was an active-duty member but would not release any more information about the young Airman as they are still in the process of completing notifications to his next of kin. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) have indicated that they are working closely with the US Secret Service as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in the ongoing investigation.

There does seem to be extensive evidence that Bushnell’s suicide was a premeditated act of political protest. Before the horrific incident, he had apparently emailed some left-wing and anarchist news websites, as well as some individual reporters. The emails were circumspect about exactly what he planned to do but said it would be “highly disturbing” and referred to his plans as an extreme form of protest over what he referred to as the “genocide” of the people of Palestine.

At the scene, Bushnell set up his phone to livestream his immolation on the social media site Twitch. The video has since been taken down but has gone viral around the internet while MPD officials say they cannot confirm the authenticity of the video yet. A spokeswoman for the Israeli Embassy has released a statement that no members of their staff were harmed in the incident.

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