It remains a mystery why an Idaho man walked up to a gas pump at a Beatrice convenience store last week, poured gas on himself, and set himself on fire.
Beatrice Police Chief Bruce Lang says the investigation of the incident has gotten nowhere, primarily because investigators cannot talk to Luedeman who is listed in critical condition in the burn unit at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Lincoln.
“The only thing we do know is that his behavior changed a few days before the incident, according to his employers,” Lang tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KWBE. “Nobody really knows or has any idea what caused that behavior change.”
According to police reports, Luedeman, who is 28, walked up to a gas pump at the Cenex station with no shirt and no shoes on, poured gas on himself and lit it. The fire burned out and before he could pour more gas on himself, the clerk at the store shut off the gas to the pumps.
Luedeman then chased the clerk out of the store, grabbed scissors and an ice scraper and began cutting himself. Police arrived and used a Taser gun to subdue him. He was taken by medical helicopter to the Lincoln hospital, with what were described as life-threatening injuries.
Luedeman had been working as a mechanical engineer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was unclear why he was in Beatrice.
Lang says everything learned in the investigation found Luedeman was bright and articulate, with nothing in his background to indicate this kind of behavior.
“He appeared to be normal in every way,” according to Lang. “So, we’re not sure what changed to create this issue.”
Lang says Luedeman’s family hasn’t been able to shed any light on what might have triggered his behavior.
“They’re obviously in shock and trying to come to grips with how or why something like this would happen when there didn’t seem to be any history of drug use, no history of mental illness, no history of anything like this.”
Doug Kennedy, KWBE, contributed to this story.