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US airman dies after setting himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy in Washington

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Originally Published: 25 FEB 24 18:18 ET Updated: 26 FEB 24 09:07 ET By Casey Gannon, Jennifer Hansler and Rashard Rose, CNN

(CNN) — An active-duty member of the US Air Force who set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, on Sunday, has died, authorities said.

Aaron Bushnell, 25, of San Antonio, Texas, said in a video of the incident obtained by CNN that he would “no longer be complicit in genocide” and that his suffering was minimal compared to that of Palestinians as the humanitarian crisis persists in Gaza.

He then sets the recording device on the ground before pouring an unknown liquid over himself and igniting it while yelling “Free Palestine” repeatedly. He eventually collapses as police officers rush to douse the flames with fire extinguishers.

He was subsequently transported by DC Fire and emergency services to a local hospital where he died, the Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement. Local police are working with the US Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to investigate the incident, which took place around 1 p.m. in northwest Washington.

Bushnell’s identity was confirmed by MPD, and Rose Riley, a spokesperson for the US Air Force, said he was an active-duty airman. Additional details will be provided after next of kin notifications are completed, the Air Force said.

A spokesperson from the Israeli Embassy said no embassy staff were injured.

In December, a person set themselves on fire outside the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta in what police said was “likely an extreme act of political protest.” A Palestinian flag that was part of the protest was recovered at the scene, and gasoline was used as an accelerant, police and fire officials told reporters at a news conference.

Israel is waging war against Hamas in Gaza, after the group’s October 7 terror attacks that killed 1,200 people in Israel, according to Israeli authorities. The response has killed nearly 30,000 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Natasha Bertrand, Rafael Romo, Jaide Timm-Garcia, Shawn Nottingham, Avery Lotz and Oren Liebermann contributed to this report.

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