Police are investigating the death of a man who evaded security at Burning Man1 and launched himself into the fire during the US festival s signature ceremony. According to officials the man, identified as 41-year-old Aaron Joel Mitchell, ran past two layers of security at the Man Burn celebration during which a giant wooden effigy is set ablaze. He was airlifted to a burns centre in California2 but was pronounced dead a few hours later.
Graphic images taken at the ceremony show the horrifying moment Mr Mitchell dodged past a chasing firefighter and leapt, feet-first, into the middle of the huge bonfire.
Ceremony: The Man is engulfed in flames (REUTERS)
Festival officials said Mr Mitchell had avoided several rangers and law enforcement officers who attempted to tackle him to the ground before he jumped. Police said doctors confirmed he hadn t been under the influence of alcohol at the time, but a toxicology report is pending. Nevada’s Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen said: We don’t know if it was intentional on his part or if it was just kind of induced by drugs . We’re not sure of that yet.”
Burning Man: The man jumped into the flames at the festival’s signature ceremony (AP)
He estimated that there was a crowd of about 50,000 people who were present when the festival’s crew of fire-fighters pulled Mr Mitchell out of the blaze.
Attempts to rescue him were hampered because part of the structure was falling while they were trying to get Mitchell out of it, the sheriff’s office said.
“Rescuers had to leave him to allow the structure to fall and provide for rescuer safety before they could go back into the flames to extract Aaron from the debris,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Thousands of revellers gather at the so-called ‘Man Burn’ (REUTERS)
The statement added that Mr Mitchell was a U.S . citizen who had a home in Oklahoma but had been living in Switzerland with his.
The festival, situated in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, released a statement saying that burns events through noon Sunday had been cancelled . However, the 8pm temple burn, another signature event that marks the end of the nine-day festival, was due to go ahead. More than 70,000 people attended the art and music celebration which culminates with the burning of a towering 40-foot effigy made of wood, a symbol of rebirth.
Sheriff Allen said the festival has tried to contain the problem of people trying to run into the flames by having their own rangers stage a human-chain to prevent people from getting close.
“People try to run into the fire as part of their spiritual portion of Burning Man,” he said. “The significance of the man burning, it’s just kind of a rebirth, they burn the man to the ground, a new chapter has started .
It’s part of their tenets of radical self-expression.”
A private cyber security firm has been involved in a year-long probe into the anonymous Twitter accounts of officers and staff within the Police Service of Northern Ireland allegedly involved in online racist abuse and trolling, it can be revealed.
The firm was hired by the PSNI last year to help trace the identity of the individuals behind a number of Twitter accounts, which also appeared to publish information about ongoing police operations, the Press Association has learned. On Monday, the PSNI confirmed that Twitter activity by persons purporting to be police officers was under investigation. On Wednesday it emerged that an internal police probe was first launched 12 months ago, shortly after the PSNI’s chief constable received online criticism for comments he made on social media to an officer. George Hamilton apologised after he told an officer on Twitter in August last year to stop “wallowing in self pity” and “dry your eyes” after he raised concern about the increasing pressures of the job. Following the online exchange, a number of anonymous Twitter users, suspected of being police officers and staff, criticised the chief constable and posted complaints about the job and PSNI management. A fake recruitment video was also made and posted on Youtube by one of the Twitter users under investigation. The video shows a number of PSNI officers dancing beside a police helicopter and at other sites across Northern Ireland. A voiceover says: “Are you considering a career where every day you drive home you fear you will be shot ? Do you want the rush of wondering if the IRA has planted a bomb under your car ?
Do you want to be told to dry your eyes when asking for mental health support? “Then join the Police Service of Northern Ireland today . Recruitment is now open to a host of new officers to be belittled by senior management teams, spat on by the public, harassed by the police ombudsman and have their spirits crushed.”
A security source told the Press Association it was around this time that the private security firm was asked to help trace the suspected police officer owners of a number of Twitter accounts. The source said the account that began to cause the greatest concern to management was being run under the Twitter handle @DonYeeoo because of alleged racist and sectarian comments, trolling of other social media users and sharing of classified police information. When it first came to the attention of the authorities the @DonYeeoo account was called Fenian McTaigerhun . The description of the account holder said “Crime Solver & lion tamer.” Some of the tweets under investigation, which have since been deleted, included: “Saudis in general just are disgusting people . Intelligence and money means nothing . Horrible dirty culture.” Another tweet said: “White people at Black Lives Matters protests are the worst of the worst … . and should throw themselves into the sea.”
The Twitter user also criticised serving police officers posting: “Every now and again I run into cops who really shouldn’t be cops . At one stage they were probably alright; but they checked out years ago.” A source close to the investigation said it was difficult to trace the identity of @DonYeeoo because the Twitter user knew how to cover their online footprint.
However, the source said photographs of locations within PSNI buildings that the Twitter user had posted, as well as data assistance from Twitter, have been used to trace the person suspected of running the account. “The initial investigations into the accounts brought the attention on the @DonYeeoo account and that account became the number one priority . Some of his content was causing major problems.
“He was smart using VPN (virtual private network) etc and it took a while for Twitter to provide information necessary . He started getting sloppy . Location pictures led to his downfall .
CCTV was played back at the locations,” the source said. A number of the anonymous accounts which formed part of the internal probe were suspended last week. It is understood investigations are still ongoing.
PSNI assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton recently said police are “examining material posted on personal social media accounts by a number of individuals and are undertaking investigations to establish if the individuals are all serving officers.”
On Monday, the PSNI said the organisation “will not accept any racist, sectarian, sexist or homophobic behaviour from any of our staff.”
Published: 11:43 Thursday 24 August 2017
Security at Celtic Park is being increased as Scotland s major venues continue to take action as the terror threat level in the UK remains at severe . The move to step up security at the stadium comes less than 24 hours after it emerged that roads around Ibrox Stadium in Govan, home of Rangers FC, would be closed by police in reponse to the threat level1. A statement from police posted on Rangers website said: You will have noticed at recent matches at Ibrox Stadium that roads around the perimeter of the stadium have been closed prior to and at the conclusion of the match. Taking into account the current UK Threat Level and to ensure the safety of all spectators this new arrangement will continue until further notice.
The road closures will be lifted as soon as the Safety Officer and Match Commander are satisfied that the spectators are safely away from the stadium. Police Scotland is believed to be acting on the advice of counter-terrorism experts, with officers seeking to enhance safety and provide public reassurance at a number of locations. Chief superintendent Sharon Milton added: Measures – including those to deter vehicle attacks – will be in place at all Rangers and Celtic home games for the foreseeable future.
This is not unique to one specific geographical area or policing division, and considerations apply for events across Scotland. Additional safety measures have been brought in for roads around Bellahouston Park, where US rapper Eminem is due to perform this evening.