CEDAR HILL (CBSDFW.COM) – A man who lit himself on fire inside of a Cedar Hill restaurant underwent surgery on Wednesday night at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Doctors are also treating a police officer who tried to stop the suspect.
Robert Gonzales was inside of the restaurant. “It was like a movie,” he said. In just seconds, that movie unfolded in front of him and a friend.
Witness Spencer Sproud recalled, “He was yelling, ‘I have gas. I have gasoline. I’m going to catch myself on fire.'”
The friends watched as a man we now know was a burglary suspect ran into the restaurant with a female Cedar Hill police officer chasing him.
“As he was running from her, he was dumping the gas on his head,” Sproud said. “It was a water or Gatorade bottle.”
Witnesses said that the officer, later identified as Ann McSwain, tried to stop the man and, while outside, took out her Taser. But the suspect ran into the restaurant.
Gonzales remembered what happened after the gas pouring. “When he walked out of Wingstop, he looked like the Human Torch,” he said.
According to Gonzales, the female officer came running out next, also on fire. A witness shot cell phone video of the woman on the ground.
The two friends immediately took off their shirts and tried to smother the flames. Sproud said, “She was burned so bad her pants were sticking to her legs — that’s how bad it was. She wasn’t trying to give up. She was strong. She was rolling [on the ground], but it wasn’t doing anything.”
Two other police officers arrived and were also burned trying to take the suspect into custody — but their injuries were not as serious as those that McSwain suffered. “I just hope she’s going to be okay,” Sproud said.
Investigators said that one of the officers who arrived at the scene later shot the suspect.
As for the two friends — they said that they were not trying to be heroes. They just happened to be in the right place to help. Gonzales said, “Her vest completely saved her.”
McSwain and the suspect are both being treated for serious burns. The other two officers were treated at the hospital and released. The suspect’s name has not been released. It is not yet known what charges that man might face.
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