HOUSTON -- Friday afternoon rush hour in downtown Houston took on added drama when a man in a business suit doused himself with gasoline and tried to set himself on fire.
He was in front of the Exxon Mobil building.
Houston Police officers and Exxon Security restrained him before he could use a lighter. Authorities stripped him of his clothes and firefighters washed him and the sidewalk down with fire hoses.
Cory Garcia, a web editor from the Houston Press, a block away, snapped photos of the man cuffed and on his knees.
“He was just sitting there, very quiet, very peaceful almost like he was meditating,” Garcia said. “I think the fact that he had a pillow with him suggest perhaps he was taking inspiration from Buddhist monks who've protested that way before.”
Houstonian Larry Mukes who was changing a flat tire across the street ran over to see what was happening.
“It was a couple of people saying it was because he couldn't find a job,” Mukes said. “He was trying to find work.”
There were a lot of theories floating around from witnesses. There's no official word if this was a suicide attempt, a protest or something else.
Witnesses said the man had a red five gallon gasoline container and had doused himself until he was soaking wet. His pillow and clothes were bagged up and collected.
Luckily for him and for passersby, he was never able to use that lighter. Police took the man in for a mental evaluation. No charges have been filed.