UPDATED AGAIN: Man Douses Himself With Liquid From a Gas Can Outside Exxon Building

Categories: Breaking News

GasManSept27.jpg
Photo by Cory Garcia


Update 11 a.m. September 30: Houston police say the man, who has a history of mentall illness, will not be charged and remains in Ben Taub NeuroPsychiatric Unit.

A man in a suit doused himself with what appeared to be gasoline outside the Exxon building on the corner of Milam Street and Leeland Street at about 5 p.m. Friday.

Houston police spokesman Kes Smith said the 25-year-old man approached a security guard at the Exxon building, 800 Bell Street. and said he had a can of gasoline with him. The building security guard and an off-duty Houston police officer who was working as a security guard saw the man walk around the corner to Milam Street. Houston police responded to a call about a possible protestor at about 4:45 p.m., Smith said.

The man sat on the sidewalk in front of the building with a small pillow and a large red gas can. Maria Gonzalez was standing on the corner when she saw him grab the can and dump the liquid on himself.

He pulled a lighter from the pocket of his dark suit and was believed to be trying to set himself on fire when the officer responding to the call and the off-duty officer lunged at him, grappling with the man to get the lighter from his hands.

"He was trying to use the lighter and the officers were trying so hard," Gonzalez said.

They succeeded in wrenching the first lighter from his hands when the man, a 25-year-old Texas resident with a history of mental illness, pulled out a second lighter and the struggle began again, Smith said.

Within minutes the officers had the man flat on the ground, his hands handcuffed behind his back. There were about eight officers on the scene, three police cars and a fire truck. The officers let the man sit cross-legged, hands still cuffed behind him, while officers and security guards for the Exxon building shouted for people to stay back.

People gathered in clumps across the street and cars crept by slowly while drivers stared out their windows at the sight. Once he'd been subdued, he sat on the sidewalk, head dropped down, without a flicker of emotion on his face. His blond hair and black suit were soaked with what Houston firemen on the scene said was most likely diesel, a much less combustible fluid, Smith said.

Houston Police Lt. P. Manzo said the man never said a word as he poured what she believed to be diesel on himself and then struggled with police as they stopped him from lighting himself on fire.

Once the man was subdued, officers brought out lengths of yellow tarp to block him from view while he was stripped of his dark suit and cleaned with a water hose from a firetruck. Police then ducked the tarp-covered man into a car. He was taken to a hospital and hasn't been charged with anything, Manzo said.

Another passerby who saw the man earlier said he was seated on the ground facing the street with what appeared to be a small white board to the right of him and a gas can on his left. There was writing on the white board but it was too small for him to be able to read it from the street, the passerby said.

Smith said there was a handwritten sign propped up on a tri-pod, but he doesn't know what was written on the sign. The man had no connection to Exxon and has a history of mental illness according to family members, Smith said. His name will not be released because he has not been charged with a crime and is protected under mental health laws, Smith said.

ExxonMobil spokesman Patrick McGinn said they are also unclear what the man was protesting and confirmed the man had no ties to Exxon.

On Monday, Smith said he does not expect the man, who is still being treated at Ben Taub NeuroPsychiatric Center, will be charged with anything. "The focus is on getting him the help he needs," Smith said.

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42 comments
Vincent Fink
Vincent Fink

didn't know one could get charged for dousing one's self in fuel.

Taresa Mikle
Taresa Mikle

Wow! I actually drove by this scene on Friday afternoon and was wondering what was going on.

Rosie Rebollar
Rosie Rebollar

This reminds me of this one weird movie where the point of view appeared to be of someone on hallucinogenic drugs. I think part of it was filmed in Austin. There was a quick scene were a man in a business suit sitting in front of an office building lights himself on fire after dousing himself with a red gasoline can.

Stephanie Elena Suarez
Stephanie Elena Suarez

why even mention "Exxon Building" why not just "Downtown" on "said street" ..hmm

Nelo Maciel
Nelo Maciel

Lol you can't light diesel with a lighter. Im sure he knew that, which is why he didn't use regular gas. This guy just wants attention

Robin Varner
Robin Varner

Prayers for this man, I hope somehow he gets hospitalized for awhile

Kirsten Fitzner
Kirsten Fitzner

Feel sorry for someone that desperate. But if he had succeeded imagine the witnesses horror. And the next day life goes on, and Exxon shouldnt be blamed

johnnybench
johnnybench topcommenter

Interesting shoes to be wearing with a suit.  


DeathBreath
DeathBreath

Damn.  That would have made a riveting news story for instant news sources.  Yes, let's set ourselves on fire with substance having a low flash point.  Why not use jet fuel?  I wonder if he was Buddhist? 

If you believe this to be a serious suicide attempt, think again.  How many people go in front of a place where attention is guaranteed, at a fucking police station?  

Auto-lethality generally occurs when two conditions happen together:  a) when there is a high probability of lethality; b) there is a slim chance of rescue.

Christine De Miguel
Christine De Miguel

Was he copying Thich Quang Duc ? The Buddhist priest who set himself on fire in 1963?

Lori Odom-Flores
Lori Odom-Flores

Prayers for this Guy - I can't imagine feeling so HOPELESS that you want to burn to death- my Lord

Kathy Creek
Kathy Creek

I'm glad they kept him from lighting himself up. I feel bad for the guy and hope he gets help. Sometimes, a person can get to such a low point that you feel hopeless and unable to get out of the depths. I hope he doesn't just get shuffled into "the system" and forgotten. If he's a protester, well...I'm still glad they stopped him.

Moji Abiola
Moji Abiola

Oooh child... Glad he was stopped before harmimg himself. Praying he gets help and feels loved.

Roland Gonzalez
Roland Gonzalez

............ thats why i prefer "CHEVRON WITH TECHRON !!

l713
l713

this picture should be taken down to protect him

mvn0
mvn0

Self immolation is most often used as a protest. 

Erica Murphey
Erica Murphey

Was he trying to commit suicide or was it some bizzare protest? I'm glad he's okay either way.

Brian Burch
Brian Burch

Feel for the Guy.. Hope is a Good thing,, Get some help Man, Life can be okay at times..

sgreco1970
sgreco1970

@Chase Thorn attempted suicide. Its a crime, punishable by jail time.

sgreco1970
sgreco1970

@Vincent Fink yes, any attempt to kill yourself is a crime. 

chrismb1231
chrismb1231

@Stephanie Elena Suarez because it happened on the block that the entire exxon building is on and he approached an exxon security guard, and exxon security guards were involved...durrr


and the gas was purchased at an exxon

sgreco1970
sgreco1970

@Nelo Maciel except, nowhere in the article do they say it was diesel. They do say gasoline, however.

Reppin2
Reppin2

@Roland Gonzalez I wonder what Techron is anyway?  I think its just a made up product. gimmeck? 

miss_msry
miss_msry

@l713   At least blur his face. But, talk about a flashback to Vietnam in the early '60s.

Reppin2
Reppin2

@Brian Burch He will go to psych for quite a while.  They will put him on some good meds.

DeathBreath
DeathBreath

@kejo66 @DeathBreath From the bottom of my heart, I would like to extend a hearty "thank you" for that wonderful compliment.  I never realized that these two things could co-exist.  In college, I always wondered why my Psychology professors were behaving in similar fashion.  Now, I know.  They were being jerks while also being correct!  Thank you so very much for pulling the wool because I could not see.  Now, like the blind man Jesus healed, a possible conversion disorder, I can finally see.  Actually, I find the moniker "Jerk" to be a bit on the crude side.  So, if you will, please refer to me as an "asshole."  It completes me.  Each & every morning, I awaken, look out at the sky, & then say to myself, "I want to be the biggest asshole I can be today."  So, thank you so very much :)

kejo66
kejo66

@DeathBreath @kejo66 

oh shit I forgot I was on Houston Press, so yes, asshole was exactly what I meant to say.  Thanks.

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