Atlanta, Georgia – A person attempting an “extreme political protest” outside the Israeli Consulate General building in Midtown resulted in injuries to both a security guard and the protester on Friday afternoon, according to Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum.
During a press conference, Atlanta Police Chief Schierbaum stated that the individual set themselves on fire near the building located at 1100 Spring Street. The security guard intervened to stop the person but was injured in the process.
A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, Schierbaum said at a news conference. Investigators did not believe the incident was linked to terrorism, and no consular staff member was ever in danger.
Atlanta Fire Chief Rod Smith reported that the security guard suffered burns on the wrist, while the protester sustained third-degree burns on their body. Smith added that the protester is currently in critical condition.
Thankfully, Chief Schierbaum assured the public that there was no immediate danger to the staff or residents of the Israeli General Consulate. All individuals present at the consulate building were unharmed during the incident.
Witnesses in the area, such as Charm Lash owner Christine Lee, described seeing emergency vehicles and hearing sirens. Lee, whose studio is across the street from the building, saw burned clothing in the aftermath.
The Israeli consulate spokesperson, Consul General Anat Sultan-Dadon, expressed sadness over the incident, calling it a “horrific” way to express a position towards Israel. Sultan-Dadon emphasized the value of life and sent thoughts and prayers to the injured security guard.
The FBI Atlanta Office released a statement acknowledging the incident and its coordination with local law enforcement. Both local and federal investigators, including ATF agents, arrived at the scene to inspect the aftermath, with evidence markers placed near charred fabric, a backpack, and a fuel canister surrounding a bench.
The motive behind the extreme political protest remains unknown at this time. The injured security guard and protestor were given immediate medical attention, and the investigation is ongoing.