What has already been a strange and scary work week in the nation's capital, came to a close with a shocking incident on the National Mall: For reasons we don't yet know, witnesses say a man doused himself with gasoline and then set himself on fire.
D.C. fire department spokesman Tim Wilson tells the AP the man suffered life-threatening injures. The wire service reports:
"He was standing by himself at Seventh Street and Madison Drive, in the center portion of the Mall, when he emptied the contents of a red gas can on himself and set himself on fire moments later, said Katy Scheflen, who witnessed it as she walked through the Mall.
"She said passing joggers took off their shirts in an effort to help douse the flames, and the man was clearly alive as the flames spread. A police department spokesman said he was conscious and breathing at the scene. MedStar Washington Hospital Center tweeted that the man was taken there but had no condition update."
Images posted on social media sites showed a rescue helicopter landing on the lawn, the iconic Washington Memorial in the background. They showed police descending upon the scene on a clear, sunny day in Washington with the Capitol building in full view.
One of those tragic stories that makes you think about perspective, and how all this affects our basic, daily humanity. What would drive a person to do this? It's bizarre as hell.
Then again, so are government shutdowns.