Motive Unclear for Man Who Lit Himself on Fire, Rammed Into Base Gate

A vehicle is on flames after crashing shortly after gaining access to Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, March 22, 2018. The driver was killed in the incident. (Screengrab from Facebook video)
A vehicle is on flames after crashing shortly after gaining access to Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, March 22, 2018. The driver was killed in the incident. (Screengrab from Facebook video)

The man who apparently lit himself on fire and drove through a gate at Travis Air Force Base, California, with propane tanks in his minivan Wednesday night was a legal immigrant from India with no local family and few associates, FBI officials said Friday evening.

Mystery still surrounds the circumstances under which Hafiz Kazi, 51, drove through the main gate around 7 p.m. Wednesday. Kazi's vehicle blew through the first checkpoint and then veered off and crashed, with him inside.

In a press conference in California, Sean Ragan, special agent in charge of the FBI's Sacramento Field Office, said officials are investigating the incident but have not made any determinations as to Kazi's motives or affiliations.

Ragan said Kazi appeared to be on fire as he approached the base in a Kia minivan. By the time emergency responders reached Kazi's car, Ragan said, he had already died. Ragan said it took some time to identify Kazi due to the condition of his body, but ultimately officials were able to ID him using fingerprints.

Inside his vehicle were found five propane tanks, three phones, three plastic one-gallon gas tanks, and several lighters, Ragan said.

FBI officials have yet to locate Kazi's home. Ragan said officials are analyzing Kazi's phones and talking to the few associates they have been able to track down. There's no evidence a continuing threat to the community exists, he said.

Kazi had been a legal permanent resident of the U.S. since 1993, an FBI investigation found. He previously worked as a cab driver, Ragan said, but his recent history is hazy.

"We know what happened, essentially ... but now the question is why," Ragan said. "The investigation we're doing right now is trying to piece together his life and attempt to determine why he was there and why he had those items in his vehicle."

So far, the FBI has not uncovered a concrete link to any organized terror group or ideology, though Ragan said the circumstances around the incident raised suspicions. But while some reports suggested the existence of a jihadist video on Kazi's phone, Ragan said that was not correct.

"We don't have any evidence of religious affiliation or anything at this point," he said.

Located in the San Francisco Bay area, Travis is home to 60th Air Mobility Wing and is the highest-trafficked military terminal in the United States.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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