HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) – A distraught father who had just been told his Marine son was killed in combat in Iraq climbed into a Marine Corps van and set it ablaze Wednesday. He suffered severe burns.

Three Marines went to a house in Hollywood to tell the father and stepmother of Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo that their 20-year-old son, who grew up in Maine, had died Tuesday in Najaf, family members said.

The father, Carlos Arredondo, 44, then walked into the garage, picked up a propane tank, a lighting device and a can of gasoline he used to douse the van, police Capt. Tony Rode said. He smashed the van’s window, got inside and set the vehicle ablaze, despite attempts by the Marines to stop him, Rode said.

When the couple saw the Marines walking toward the front door, “My husband immediately knew that his firstborn son had been killed – and my husband did not take the news well,” Melida Arredondo told reporters before police escorted her to the hospital.

“It doesn’t surprise me that he was so traumatized. He went crazy,” she said.

The Marines pulled Arredondo from the burning van and extinguished the flames on him, police said. None of the Marines was injured, Marines spokesman Maj. Scott Mack said.

“The father was in disbelief, same as any of us would be after hearing this kind of news,” Rode said. “But then the father basically loses it. You can only imagine what this father was going through. He snapped, to say the least.”

Alexander Arredondo grew up in Maine, said family members who moved to Hollywood just a few months ago.

Luz Marina Arredondo, Alexander’s grandmother, felt the government was at fault for her grandson’s death.

“I blame them a lot,” she said. “They send them like guinea pigs over there.”

Carlos Arredondo was initially taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood with burns over 50 percent of his body, Hollywood Fire-Rescue spokesman Matthew Phillips said.

Arredondo was later moved to the major burn unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, about 20 miles south of Hollywood. He was listed in serious condition with severe burns to his arms and legs.

Melida Arredondo said she and Carlos last talked to their son two weeks ago.

Alexander Arredondo grew up in Maine, said family members, who moved to Hollywood just a few months ago.

Rode said it was too early in the investigation to discuss possible charges against Arredondo.

“We’ll see how he recovers before doing anything,” Rode said.

U.S. forces in Najaf have been battling for nearly five months against Iraqi militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.


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