A man set himself on FIRE at Iowa public library yesterday

A man literally set himself on fire yesterday at a public library in Iowa, in front of a ton of people who were greatly disturbed by the sight:

NY POST – A man walked into the busy atrium of an Iowa public library, doused himself with flammable liquid and set himself on fire before the eyes of horrified onlookers, police said Wednesday.

“I will never un-see what I saw,” Mallory Young, 35, of Des Moines, told the Des Moines Register. “There were people in tears in my office, it was that disturbing.”



The man who set himself on fire died later at the hospital…

Victim David Smith, 36, died late Tuesday from the burns he sustained about four hours earlier in the enclosed hallway at the Des Moines Central Library, Des Moines police told The Post.

Young, who watched the tragedy unfold from an office building across the street from the library, said she saw police officers “spraying down” the man’s severely burned and discolored body before he was put in an ambulance.

Video obtained by the newspaper shows officials responding to the fire as people stand outside.

Smith had only been in Des Moines for two weeks prior the incident and his last known address was in Anchorage, Alaska, Des Moines police spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek said.

It was immediately unclear whether Smith – who had lived a “transient” lifestyle,” Parizek told The Post – was struggling with mental health issues. An investigation is ongoing, he said.

Library staffers and other people nearby helped put the blaze, which shut down the location before it later reopened early Wednesday.

Just so you know, even if there was video of this there’s no way I’d post it. It’s quite simply too disturbing and horrific to watch someone die like that. There were enough people in the area who were forced to witness the spectacle – no need for anyone else to see it. That said, it must’ve been heartbreaking to see a man go up in flames like that, so see life disappearing in such a tragic fashion. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

No one else was hurt and the library was undamaged.

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18 thoughts on “A man set himself on FIRE at Iowa public library yesterday

  1. Seeing this story made me remember seeing photos in newspapers and magazines showing anti Vietnam war activists do this very same thing. It happened quite often too.

  2. I remember seeing on t.v. the monks in Vietnam immolating themselves in protest of the war in the late sixties. Horrible way to go. I think that here we need to reopen the mental health hospitals, whether or not you take out just yourself or others with you, these people need help, even if it’s for the rest of their lives. This guy not only took himself out, but he gave other people major nightmares for a long time.

  3. I have a sudden urge to go watch The Wicker Man.

    The Nick Cage one. Man that is one absurd film. (NOT THE BEES! NOT THE BEES!!!!)

  4. What a horror. Thank you, Scoop, for not posting.

    Cannot imagine why someone would do this in the first place, and why he would subject innocent people, including possibly children present, to witness it. Had to have been truly out of his mind.

  5. I’ve seen plenty of people burn to death on video. Never in person.

    Four hours of suffering before he passed.

  6. At least he didn’t feel the need to take a ton of people with him, like so many others do. Prayers for his soul, and for those who had to witness this.

  7. I saw a man die in a fire when I was around 8 or 10. It’s not something that you want to see, trust me.

    1. I saw a car full of people burning to death on a major interstate highway when I was in Junior High. That’s a memory that never diminishes.

  8. “It was immediately unclear whether Smith – who had lived a “transient” lifestyle,” Parizek told The Post – was struggling with mental health issues.” I don’t think this is difficult to figure out. Nobody in their right mind would do something like that.

    Prayers for those who witnessed the horror and any loved ones who have been or will be notified of Mr. Smith’s death.

    BTW Scoop, I would NOT want to see the pictures.

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