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Air Force vet who set himself on fire to protest the VA dies of wounds

Atlanta police bomb squad responds after a veteran who said he was disgruntled with the Department of Veterans Affairs set himself on fire in protest June 26 outside the Georgia Capitol. AP Photo

By: J.D. Simkins, Military Times Editor/Writer ~~

Investigators have confirmed that the Air Force veteran who set himself on fire on the grounds of the Georgia Capitol building in protest of the Department of Veterans Affairs has died.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced this week that 58-year-old John Michael Watts died Monday, less than a week after self-immolating in downtown Atlanta.
Watts, of Mableton, Georgia, stood outside the Capitol building on June 26 with fireworks strapped to his body and proceeded to douse himself with a flammable liquid and set himself on fire.
Loud explosions could be heard as the blaze spread.
As the grisly scene unfolded, a nearby police officer rushed toward the veteran with a fire extinguisher in hand to smother the inferno. Authorities said Watts was able to communicate with officers after the flames were extinguished.
Watts was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital with burns to 85 to 90 percent of his body.
With the streets surrounding the Capitol cordoned off, a bomb squad was dispatched to the scene for fear that the veteran may have planned a large-scale attack.
The veteran was then rushed to the nearby Grady Memorial Hospital with burns to 85 to 90 percent of his body.
Watts had positioned a sign in the windshield of his car that listed a phone number and instructions to call it, which authorities feared may have triggered an explosive device.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.