Bethesda man who set himself on fire near White House dies; had been reported missing

The White House. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/dkfielding)

A man who set himself on fire near the White House Wednesday afternoon has died — and he had been reported missing with concern for his emotional health earlier in the day.

U.S. Park Police identified him Thursday morning as Arnav Gupta, 33, of Bethesda, Maryland.

Gupta died Wednesday evening, police said.

According to Montgomery County police, Gupta was reported missing and had last been seen by his family leaving his home on Cindy Lane around 9:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Arnav Gupta. (Courtesy Montgomery County Police)

“Police are concerned for Gupta’s physical and emotional welfare,” a release said.

Around 12:25 p.m. Wednesday, U.S. Park Police said officers responded to a report of a man on fire on the Ellipse, near 15th Street and Constitution Avenue.

The fire on Gupta was extinguished, and he was taken to a hospital, park police said.

A helicopter and multiple D.C. Fire trucks responded within minutes as he was hit with extinguishers.

Witnesses told CNBC that Gupta was running before being consumed by flames.

Police spokesman Sgt. Eduardo Delgado said on Wednesday police had not identified a motive.

Delgado said police are working to determine what type of accelerant was used and whether the man parked his car nearby.

The case has been turned over to the D.C. police department.

A map of the area where the incident happened is below.

WTOP’s Colleen Kelleher, Madeleine Simon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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