Father: Son who burned himself alive was a troubled genius

Father: Son who burned himself alive was a troubled genius »Play Video
Photo by James Newman.

PORTLAND, Ore. – The father of a man who set himself on fire Wednesday in downtown Portland and died from the subsequent injuries said his son had mental issues and had tried suicide before.

Warren Shaull, the father of Daniel Shaull, 26, talked to KATU News shortly after hearing about his son’s death.

“Because of the way that he thinks, maybe he thought that was the only way out,” Warren Shaull said. He added that Daniel may have become convinced “that nothing was ever going to change and there was nothing he could do about it."

According to witnesses, Daniel Shaull doused himself with gasoline and then lit the fuel while he stood outside the Portland furrier Nicholas Ungar Furs, located in downtown Portland.

The business has been the target of protests by animal rights groups for the past several years.

The Portland Anti-Fur Campaign said in an email “we do not know who this person was nor do we know what his intentions were” but also added that “It is really unfortunate that one would feel as if they must take such drastic measures, yet, this Fur Store has continued their bloody business despite protests outside for 3 years now.” The full text of their press release appears below this story.

Daniel’s father described him as a generous young man who gave away everything he owned without reservation, including his own jacket, even if it meant he would suffer. His father said that he once told him that people may have thought he was “crazy” to do that but he felt the world around him was crazy.

In the phone interview with KATU News, Warren repeatedly stressed that his son told him he was upset with violence in the world and was frustrated with the world's social ills and the apparent inability to solve them.

Warren said Daniel was traveling the nation by bus and was in Portland to attend Mission Teen, which ministers to troubled youth. He apparently wanted to be a counselor. However, Warren said Daniel was asked to leave the organization after only a few days and was directed to the Portland Rescue Mission.

He said Daniel had Oregon in mind due to what he believed was a large population of vegetarians in the area.

Warren said Daniel’s actions outside the fur business were “really out of the ordinary” for him despite known psychiatric issues and past suicidal tendencies. Warren described Daniel as a “genius” with a faculty scholarship at an unnamed college but that the position did not work out.

However, he also added that Daniel may have been talked into the self-immolation. He said it might have been possible for him to be persuaded to attempt such an action. He did not speculate on who may have tried to convince Daniel to do such a thing and did not blame anyone for his actions.

He said his son had troubles in the past but had gotten his life together, was working out and was on a quest to find peace and justice in the world.

After setting himself ablaze, witnesses, including a local photographer who shot photos of the aftermath of the incident, said Daniel ran down the street where some nearby police and other bystanders managed to put out the flames using a fire extinguisher.

The clothing Daniel was wearing was reportedly engulfed in flames. Charred remains of clothes, a shoe and other personal items were found at the scene.

Shaull later died from his injuries at a local hospital. Warren said that Daniel's last words, spoken to a pastor at the hospital, were "I hope that someone loves me."

Daniel Shaull was from Dodge City, Kansas. He is survived by his parents, a brother and a sister. He had turned 26 three weeks ago.

His parents said his remains were scheduled to be returned to Kansas.


This unedited email was received by KATU News before Daniel Shaull's death was announced.

The Portland Anti Fur Campaign  was just alerted to the action outside Nicholas Ungar Furs earlier today [Wednesday].

 

We do not know who this person was nor do we know what his intentions were. If his intentions were to raise awareness of unnecessary animal suffering and killing done in the fur industry, and by businesses like Ungar Furs, then we wish him well.

 

We are not saying that we want people to light themselves on fire and run into fur shops, but we do understand that sometimes you have to make noise and make a scene to stand up for the animals. It is really unfortunate that one would feel as if they must take such drastic measures, yet, this Fur Store has continued their bloody business despite protests outside for 3 years now.

 

If the person's motivation was to bring media attention to the issue, they obviously achieved their goal.

 

Raise your fist, and your voice, Fox and Mink have no Choice!