Police are still investigating why a Sandusky man, who is a registered sex offender, set himself on fire while riding his bicycle Wednesday afternoon.
Julian Clinton, 23, 1300 of Farwell St., was on his bike heading west in the 1200 block of Pierce St. when he used a cigarette lighter and an unidentified flammable liquid to set his patch-braided hair on fire.
A neighboring woman tried to give Clinton a glass of water to douse his head after he jumped from his bicycle.
He drank the water instead and continued walking down the street in a reportedly "emotional" state.
A witness said he then stumbled into a nearby yard where he rolled around until the blaze was out.
According to the Erie Sheriff's Office Web site, Clinton is a sexually-oriented offender whose victim was a female child. The site lists his offenses as rape on May 7, 2002, and probation violation on July 27, 2006.
Sandusky police thought Clinton might try to harm himself.
They received a request from Clinton's brother at 10:27 a.m. Wednesday to check on his condition at a Putnam Street address, only a few blocks away from where he set himself on fire.
Police didn't find Clinton there, but they did find a note.
"(It) indicated that he was in a distraught way and that he had intended on committing suicide," said Sandusky Assistant Chief Charlie Sams.
The next call police received was around 2 p.m. when Clinton was reported to be riding his bike down Pierce Street with his head on fire.
A witness reported watching Clinton swatting his hair, trying to put the fire out.
A crowd of at least 10 people from the neighborhood watched in shock and disbelief as the incident unfolded.
When Sandusky police and firefighters arrived on scene, the fire was already out and Clinton was walking east on Pierce Street.
He was handcuffed for his own safety before he was taken to the hospital by a Sandusky EMS crew.
"He sustained some burns about his face and head," Sams said.
Police took Clinton's bike and his burnt T-shirt into evidence and took statements from witnesses.
A female acquaintance of Clinton who was at the scene declined to comment on why he might have done this.
"We don't know for sure if he has a history of mental illness," Sams said. "At this time there's no charges on file. I don't anticipate any right now. At this point the officers are just talking with everyone."
Sams said Clinton's attempt was no more unusual than any other suicide attempt.
"I don't think any way of trying to kill yourself is a good way," he said. "I don't consider any suicide usual."
Clinton was still in the emergency room of Firelands Regional Medical Center at 7:26 p.m. Wednesday, but hospital employees would not release information about his condition.