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Man who set himself on fire on National Mall was mentally ill, family says

Gary Cameron / Reuters file

Police at the scene where a man set himself on fire in front of the U.S. Capitol on Friday. The man, who died, was identified as John Constantino, 64, of Mount Laurel, N.J.

The man who died after having set himself ablaze last week on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., had long battled mental illness, his family said Tuesday.

John Constantino, 64, of Mount Laurel, N.J., suffered "significant" burns over his entire body and died at a hospital, D.C. police said.

Constantino doused himself with gasoline from a red canister and set himself on fire Friday afternoon near the National Air and Space Museum, further rattling a city that was already on edge a day after a Connecticut woman was shot dead after she tried to ram her car through a White House barrier.

His family members said in a statement Tuesday they were "shocked and deeply saddened" by his violent demise.

"His death was not a political act or statement, but the result of his long battle with mental illness," his family said in a statement released by attorney Jeffrey Cox. Constantino had three adult children.

Initial speculation was that the man may have been homeless, but Burlington County property records listed Constantino as living at a home in Mount Laurel as recently as last week.

Regina Horner, a neighbor, told Reuters Constantino was a pleasant man.

"He was very friendly and showed no signs of depression," Horner said.

"He did not want to talk about politics because the government did not care about us," she added.

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NBC News' Becky Bratu and Reuters contributed to this report. 

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