Texas airman Aaron Bushnell dies after setting himself on fire outside Israeli embassy

Editor's note: This story includes references to suicide. Information about suicide warning signs and resources for people in crisis can be found at the end of this story.

U.S. Air Force member Aaron Bushnell, of San Antonio, Texas, shouted “Free Palestine!” while being engulfed in flames outside of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Bushnell, 25, reportedly lit himself on fire and was transported to an area hospital, where he died from his injuries, the Metropolitan Police Department confirmed on Monday.

Officials responded to the incident around 1 p.m. local time outside the gates of the Israeli Embassy, according to police and the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

According to an Associated Press report, Bushnell began a livestream on Twitch before dousing himself in a flammable chemical. At one point, Bushnell said during the stream that he “will no longer be complicit in genocide,” a person near the incident said to the AP.

The MPD said it is working with the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to investigate the incident. Officials would not confirm whether the self-immolation was an act of protest.

Who is Aaron Bushnell?

According to Bushnell’s LinkedIn profile, which has been memorialized, he has been in the Air Force for three years. He was pursuing a bachelor's degree in software engineering from Western Governor's University. In his bio, he said he wanted to transition out of the military and into software engineering.

According to those who knew him personally, Bushnell was also passionate about social issues like providing mutual aid for San Antonio’s unhoused.

Talia Jane, an independent reporter on X, formerly known as Twitter, shared quotes from people who knew Bushnell on her page.

“'He is one of the most principled comrades I’ve ever known,' said Xylem, who worked with Bushnell to support San Antonio’s unhoused residents,” Jane wrote on X.

Bushnell’s final Facebook post was also critical of historical injustices.

ushnell, 25, penned the Facebook post about standing against injustice early Sunday.
ushnell, 25, penned the Facebook post about standing against injustice early Sunday.

"Many of us like to ask ourselves, 'What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?'" the post reads. "The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.”

Suicide prevention help

If you or someone you're close to is in a crisis, there are ways to get help.

What are the signs of suicide?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, these are signs to look for:

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves

  • Talking about feeling empty or hopeless or having no reason to live

  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions

  • Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain

  • Talking about being a burden to others

  • Withdrawing from family and friends

  • Giving away important possessions

  • Saying goodbye to friends and family

  • Putting affairs in order, such as making a will

  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast

  • Talking or thinking about death often

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Texas airman dies after setting himself on fire outside Israeli embassy