An elderly man who set himself on fire in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Queens has died. The New York Police Department (NYPD) believes that the 65-year-old committed suicide. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
On Saturday, a 911 call was placed to authorities to report that a man was inside an SUV at a Home Depot on 31st Ave. near 123rd St. in College Point. He was seated inside the vehicle, a Toyota 4Runner, with a gasoline can next to him. The man was badly burned.
Around 3:15 p.m. that day, the deceased was said to have doused himself with the gas and set himself on fire. Authorities were able to determine after speaking with his wife that he had threatened to harm himself the day before the tragic event. According to the New York Daily News, he had a long-standing history of mental illness. Police said that the man suffered from schizophrenia as well as bipolar disorder.
This incident marks the second time that a man has taken his own life by setting himself on fire in recent weeks. In a move that shocked the city, gay rights lawyer and environmentalist David S. Buckel took his own life on April 14 in a similar manner.
The attorney carried out the suicide at Prospect Park’s baseball fields as a form of protest to the use of fossil fuels. Buckel doused himself in fuel and set himself ablaze, which terrified park visitors on that early Saturday morning.
In the suicide note that he left nearby, Buckel identified himself and declared that he had killed himself using fire “as a protest suicide.” He then stated, “I apologize to you for the mess.”
The NYPD has decided to withhold the identity of the Queens victim until his family has been notified in an effort to be sensitive to their needs during this time. No statement from Home Depot on this incident has been issued.
The home improvement company has also been in the news recently for a shooting at a north Dallas store where two officers and a civilian were injured. Officer Rogelio Santander died from his injuries on April 25.