A crazy scene unfolded Tuesday morning as a man set himself on fire on the grounds of the state capitol as a press conference was being held detailing the new distracted driving laws to take effect on July 1.
The Georgia State Patrol was holding the press conference and when Natalie Dale, media relations liaison for GDOT was speaking, several loud, banging noises were heard.
A number of law enforcement officers were on hand behind her and when they heard the banging noises, they cleared the press conference and began pursuit.
Man sets himself afire on grounds of Capitol building
According to the Georgia Dept. of Public Safety, officers then discovered that a veteran had set himself ablaze by using fireworks because he was upset with the treatment he was receiving at the VA hospital.
The Georgia State Patrol said 58-year-old John Michael Watts pulled onto Washinton Street on the west side of the Capitol building, exited his vehicle and approached the west entrance of the building wearing a vest lined with fireworks and flammable devices. He doused himself with a flammable liquid and lit the fireworks.
According to the GSP, a Georgia State Patrol trooper witnessed the event and immediately put the flames out with a fire extinguisher. The man was transported to Grady Hospital. He was alert and breathing before he was transported, and he identified himself as an Air Force veteran and was trying to bring attention to the Veteran's Administration system.
The Department of Veteran's Affairs sent CBS46 the following statement:While we can’t comment on the specifics of this Veteran’s case due to patient privacy laws, the department is ensuring he receives the VA care that he needs. App users, tap here for pictures from the sceneSeveral roads are blocked off around the area as police investigate. They're asking people to avoid the area, if possible. The Capitol and Judiciary Buildings have been evacuated while Georgia Bureau of Investigations agents and Atlanta police bomb technicians are on scene evaluating the vehicle as a precaution.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Atlanta Office has also responded to the event at the Georgia State Capitol Building:
Stay with CBS46 News for updates.
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