Horror At City Hall: Man Sets Himself On Fire In Lobby
(April 19, 2007) -- In a horrifying act that ultimately led to the evacuation of LB City Hall, a man walked into City Hall's first floor lobby and (apparently using gasoline) set himself on fire today (April 19).
As reported in a series of breaking reports on LBReport.com's front page, we reported within minutes that at approximately 3:35 p.m. , a man had entered the lobby and set himself on fire. He was subsequently identified by LBPD Public Information Officer Nancy Pratt as Haouy Nguyen, 50, of Fountain Valley. LBFD says he was taken to a hospital with burns on roughly 20% of his body.
LB photojournalist Diana Lejins captured the scene as investigators examined the affected lobby area (below). Ms. Lejins reported that the #3 marker is believed to be where the man set himself afire; the #5 marker may be where he collapsed; some clothing appears to be on the floor. Investigators took photos and collected material.
NBC4 News (KNBC-TV) was sufficiently impressed with Ms. Lejins' photojournalism that it arranged with her [with our approval] to use photos from her as part of their 11:00 p.m. news report on the story.
There's no official information as we post about the reason(s) for Mr. Nguyen's action.
LBFD says he was taken to a hospital with burns on roughly 20% of his body. (LBPD says the City Hall security officer received minor burns trying to put out the blaze.)
During the events, somone noticed a package. Initial reports indicated the man may have brought the package, while subsequent reports indicated that wasn't clear. Authorities took no chances...and evacuated City Hall and nearby LB Civic Center area buildings (including the Main Library).
A safety perimeter was established. On-scene reporter Ryan Smolar said that at about 5:00 p.m., Ocean Blvd. in the City Hall area was packed with LBFD and LBPD units.
The L.A. County Bomb Squad "rendered the device safe" [details not immediately available on what, if anything, they found]...and declared the area safe by about 6:00 p.m.
Street traffic in City Hall area remained snarled for some time.