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Father of Marine Slain in Iraq Torches Van

August 26, 2004|From Associated Press

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — 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 had gone to a house in Hollywood to tell the father and stepmother of Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo that their 20-year-old son had died Tuesday in Najaf, family members said.

After receiving the news, Carlos Arredondo, 44, walked into the garage, picked up a propane tank, a lighting device and a can of gasoline, Hollywood Police Capt. Tony Rode said.

Arredondo smashed the van's window with the tank, climbed inside, doused it with gas and set it on fire, Rode said.

The three Marines, who had tried to stop Arredondo, pulled the man from the burning van and extinguished the flames on him, police said. None of the Marines was injured, Marine spokesman Maj. Scott Mack said.

Melida Arredondo told reporters that when she and her husband saw the Marines walking toward the front door, he "immediately knew that his firstborn son had been killed -- and my husband did not take the news well."

"It doesn't surprise me that he was so traumatized. He went crazy," she said.

Arredondo was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood with burns over 50% of his body, Hollywood Fire-Rescue spokesman Matthew Phillips said. He was later moved to the major burn unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, about 20 miles south. He was listed in serious condition with severe burns to his arms and legs.

"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."

Luz Marina Arredondo, the slain Marine's grandmother, said the government was to blame for his death.

"They send them like guinea pigs over there," she said.

Melida Arredondo said she and her husband last talked to their son two weeks ago. Alexander Arredondo grew up in Maine, family members said.

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.

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