It was a macabre scene: A man in costume went up in flames as visitors to West Hollywood's annual Halloween Carnival looked on in shock and disbelief, apparently unsure if it was a show or prank of some kind.
The death of 51-year-old Gilbert Estrada sparked a homicide investigation, but it turns out this was no murder:
L.A. County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives have concluded that Estrada accidentally lit his costume on fire in the process of lighting a cigarette on Santa Monica Boulevard about 10:26 p.m. on Halloween night.
He was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center the next day. According to a sheriff's statement:
Follow up investigation by the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau revealed that victim Estrada attempted to light some type of cigarette and accidentally caught his costume on fire.
Witnesses reported that Estrada was wearing a “sniper costume” made of burlap and straw, which would have made it very flammable.
His family used the website gofundme.com to help pay for his funeral and burial. Estrada's brother said he “suffered severe burns to his upper body including his face” and called it “a tragic accident.”