A woman set herself on fire in a congressman’s office on Tuesday afternoon.
A 43-year-old woman walked into at U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis’ Chicago office, authorities said, drank from a bottle of hand sanitizer, poured the remaining liquid on herself and lit herself on fire in an apparent suicide attempt.
She was taken to Stroger Hospital in serious condition, but has since been stabilized.
Davis (D – IL 7th district) was not in the office at the time, but returned from a meeting shortly after the incident. He said he doesn’t know why the woman set herself on fire and that she only spoke to the office staff briefly, CBS St. Louis reported.
“Often times people sign a register or a book with their name and address but she never got to that point,” Davis said, Chicago Tribune reported. “We don’t know her and we don’t know exactly what she may have been coming for.”
“To me, it’s an obvious case of mental illness,” Davis said, NBC5 Chicago reported. “It’s a reaffirmation of the tremendous need for additional mental health services in our community.”
According to Davis’ employees, the woman entered the office at about 3 p.m. and started picking up staff member’s items around the room. Staff told the woman that police would be called if she didn’t stop.
The next item the woman picked up was a bottle of hand sanitizer. She poured it on herself and used a lighter to set herself ablaze. As she ran through a doorway, a staff member used a fire extinguisher and called 911, the Tribune reported.
“This is a big issue for us because we have people like her who don’t necessarily set themselves on fire, but are obviously experiencing mental health challenges,” Davis said about visitors to his street-level office. “And we get them almost daily.”
Davis said he sometimes drives the homeless and drug addicted visitors to get help and all of his staff arefamiliar with the shelter system and rehabs.
“We don’t worry much about security,” he said, NBC5 reported. “I’ve been in a storefront office in Chicago on the West Side for over 40 years. That’s the only way to really be of value and service. We’re basically part of the hood.”