Man Dies After Ramming Car, Setting Self Ablaze

San Marino police and arson investigators continue to probe what led a man to ram his pickup truck into the side of another vehicle as its driver left her home before he apparently self-immolated inside his truck Monday morning.
As of Tuesday afternoon, investigators were still waiting to confirm the identity of the man, whom the victim said she recognized as a former gardener.
“We’re still investigating a little bit of the ‘who, what and where,’” explained Sgt. Tim Tebbetts of San Marino Police Department, who was interviewed by phone Tuesday. “There’s a lot of stuff that’s still unknown. It’s not cut-and-dry like we originally assumed.”
According to Tebbetts, the man collided with the driver’s side door of the Lexus SUV driven by the victim, a middle-aged woman living in the 1600 block of Shenandoah Road, shortly before 8:40 a.m. Monday, March 26.
The victim immediately fled in her vehicle and drove straight to SMPD, Tebbetts said. Before she arrived, the department had received an emergency call from someone walking a dog, who reported seeing a man pour some sort of liquid over himself and his truck and light himself on fire while sitting in the truck.
“We’re waiting for the arson investigators to confirm what the liquid was,” Tebbetts said. “Once arson finishes their portion of the investigation, we’ll be sure.”
Although the blaze fully engulfed the truck, it did not damage anything else. The San Marino Fire Department extinguished the burning truck, which was a black Toyota model.
Tebbetts said the victim identified the man as a former gardener, around 65 years old, whom she fired about two months ago. He added that investigators are awaiting confirmation of his identity, although law enforcement officers currently are following up at the former gardener’s possible addresses, all of which are in Los Angeles County.
“Because he was so badly burned, we’re waiting for the coroner to give us a confirmation as to who he actually was,” Tebbetts said.
The victim escaped serious injury. She was evaluated by SMFD firefighters, who are doubly trained as paramedics or EMTs.
“We had her checked out. Everything was good. She’s going to have some bumps and bruises of course,” Tebbetts said.
Arson investigators with SMFD are working with SMPD detectives to investigate this case. Crime scene technicians with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helped process the scene. Tebbetts said a neighbor’s security cameras might have recorded the full incident.
Those with any information regarding the investigation, which is currently being considered an attempted murder, are urged to contact Detective Naved Qureshi at (626) 300-0728.

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