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Man lights himself on fire in front of deputies, authorities say

Gaspar Ayala-Arellano faces a charge of aggravated assault on a peace officer.

A 48-year-old man lit himself on fire Tuesday night after a law enforcement officer stopped to offer help, authorities said.

Gaspar Ayala-Arellano was seen walking just before midnight on the 1300 block of University Avenue near Zia Middle School.

A Mesilla marshal stopped to offer the man help, but he refused to identify himself to the marshal, authorities said.

The marshal called for help from the sheriff’s office, and when deputies arrived, Arellano is accused of pulling out a knife and threatening officers, authorities said.

Arellano threw the knife at the marshal, which struck her leg, authorities said.

The marshal was not injured.

At that point, Arellano doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire, authorities said.

Deputies were able to put out the fire before medical units arrived.

The man was taken to Memorial Medical Center for treatment, and he was released to the county jail.

He faces a charge of aggravated assault on a peace officer.

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