What Drove a Man to Set Himself on Fire in Brooklyn?

The day Mr. Buckel died, Mr. Morales obtained a textual content from him at 5:25 a.m. saying he wouldn’t be at work. At 5:55 a.m., he received the letter Mr. Buckel emailed to a number of information organizations. He was arriving on the Red Hook website and dismissed it at first, taking it for one of many information tales they’d trade.

“I sent him a text at 6:40 saying, ‘Please tell me that email is just a joke.’”

Above Mr. Buckel’s letter, there was a word. “I apologize for leaving this world early and leaving you with some big challenges to tackle,” it stated. “You are ready. I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished, both in your professional and your personal life. It was an honor and a pleasure to serve the Earth with you.”

Mr. Morales, not wanting to imagine what he had learn, confirmed it to a few different staff later that morning. He did a Google seek for “self-immolation.”

“It popped up — Prospect Park,” he stated. “We just dropped to the ground.”

Mr. Buckel selected to die not earlier than hundreds, however alone. He selected to do it at an early hour, maybe so the sight of a burning man can be much less possible to traumatize youngsters, or be caught on video.

Even the placement, that forgettable strip of grass simply off the highway, appeared meant to disrupt life as little as doable. “I apologize to you for the mess,” he wrote in a word to the police, which was discovered along with his letter in the purchasing cart. He had stapled his enterprise card to the letter, and left his identification on a lanyard close by, to take away any doubt.

He stored his cellphone with him, which was discovered in melted items by his physique, together with a knife and a few keys.

Among the various unanswered questions concerning the demise of David Buckel was why he had a folding purchasing cart with him. There was no gas canister in it, nothing however an empty black plastic bag — the sort he and Mr. Morales full of the wealthy new soil made on their compost website.

The earth round Mr. Buckel was burned in a almost excellent circle. The police stated the bottom was too scorched to inform, however it’s doable that when he went to Prospect Park that day, he took some soil with him, hauling it in the cart. It is feasible Mr. Buckel’s final moments have been spent spreading it out, making a ring round himself, so the flames wouldn’t unfold.

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