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Attempted Self-Immolation Blocked By Rangers

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

National Park News

Late on the evening of March 24th, ranger Steve Korsgren came upon a man wearing a construction-type traffic vest who was spray painting in the grass directly under the legs of the Arch. The park has a good deal of construction underway at present, and the man claimed to be a contractor. Korsgren worked with dispatch to check his story and found that he was not a contractor and had no business related to the ongoing construction projects. He also learned that the man was a Russian national. He was ticketed and released. Around 6 p.m. the following evening, the man returned with a gas can and more spray paint. A maintenance employee advised dispatch after seeing him walk up the Grand Staircase with the gas can. The man removed his traffic vest, poured gas on it, then put it back on. At about this time, rangers Charlie Burke and Lou Jahrling contacted him, whereupon the man started striking a lighter and yelling that he was going to set himself on fire. Following a brief struggle, the man attempted to flee; he was tackled by the rangers as he again attempted to strike the lighter, which failed to ignite. He was arrested and placed on a hold for psychiatric evaluation. A joint investigation with the local FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force is underway.



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