"HUMAN TORCH." Officers Forced to Shoot Flaming Robbery Suspect To Save Him

Passerby Stroud used his shirt to help smother the flames.

This is one of those rare instances where police officers were forced to shoot a robbery suspect in order to have a chance of saving him.

A burglary suspect being followed by police doused himself in gasoline and had a container of the flammable liquid in his hands as he entered Wingstop restaurant in the Dallas suburb of Cedar Hill yesterday afternoon.


Three officers confronted the suspect inside the restaurant, who then set himself and a female officer on fire and burst through the door:

Witnesses said a female officer brandished a stun gun and the man yelled, “I have gas. I have gasoline. I’m gonna catch myself on fire.”

The suspect, who reeked of gasoline and was holding a bottle of flammable liquid, set himself and the female officer on fire, Reiss said.

“It was just, his shirt was on fire when he came out of Wingstop,” said witness Robert Gonzales. “As soon as he hit that door it was boom, his whole body went on fire.”

The female officer also ran into the lot, fully ablaze, Gonzales said, so he and another man, Spencer Stroud, ran to tried to smother the flames.

She’s screaming, slapping her face that’s when we run over there I take off my shirt I start putting her face out, her chest, and her arm,” Stroud said. “The back of her head and her arm is what I was worried about. Like I said I just hope she’s gonna be okay.”

Stroud said the suspect continued to pour liquid from the bottle on himself.

The man—whom witnesses described as having a death wish—then attempted to flee from officers as he continued to pour fuel onto himself.

One of two detectives pursuing the burning man shot him to stop him, and then both officers were burned as they smothered the flames. Meanwhile passersby Gonzales and Stroud attended the more seriously burned female officer.

Passerby Stroud used his shirt to help smother the flames.
Passerby Spenser Stroud used his shirt to help smother the flames on the burning female officer.

All three officers and the robbery suspect were hospitalized at Parkland Hospital, which has a dedicated burn unit. The two detectives who took down and put out the burning suspect were treated and released. Officer Ann McSwain is in more serious condition. The video report (at the link, above)  indicates that Mr. Stroud is also at the hospital, concerned about the officer he helped save.

The suspect is also at Parkland and was undergoing surgery late Wednesday. His condition is unknown at this time. If he survives (which at this point seems questionable), it is likely because the two detectives were able to stop him and put out the flames before he burned to death on the scene.

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