Wife of Atlanta security guard burned trying to save protester asks for prayers

A security guard remains in the hospital after trying to stop a protester from setting herself on fire out the Israeli Consulate in Midtown Friday afternoon. His family says he was badly burned in the incident.

Michael Harris' wife, Tangellia Harris, says he is an Army veteran who has worked as security at the building located at 1100 Spring Street NW for 17 years. She says his natural instincts to step in and help kicked in when he heard a woman was threatening to harm herself outside.

"That's his character he is a person who if he sees someone in need he immediately jumped. There's no strangers in his life," Tangellia told FOX 5.

As Michael approached the woman, she set herself on fire, engulfing him in the flames, too.

He suffered second and third degree burns on different parts of his body and is still recovering at Grady Memorial Hospital.

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(Credit: Tangellia Harris)

"We're just trying to take it day-by-day and keep his spirits up," Tangellia said.

It's been a difficult few days for the couple who are still trying to wrap their heads around what happened.

"Today was pretty hard because I actually watched him clean the wounds," she added.

The family of Michael Harris speaks to FOX 5 Atlanta.

Police reports state the woman who started the fire was in possession of a Palestinian flag.

"This was likely an extreme act of political protest," said Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said. "The individual that was injured was an individual that was carrying out a protest."

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Photo courtesy of Rapid Emergency Roadside Assistance

Michael's family says they don't know when he'll be able to come home.

"He is being as strong as he can. However, mentally, it's kind of like, you know, PTSD has actually already slowly started setting in. But, that is to be expected because anybody in that position … you're going to relive that situation over and over again," said Romona Kea, Michael's sister-in-law.

"We try not to think of the entirety of it all. Just day by day," Tangellia added.

After the incident, the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast released a statement expressing their concern for the security guard:

The protester remains unidentified by police.

Michael Harris (Photo submitted by family)

The Harris family set up a GoFundMe campaign to offset his medical costs.

"Continue to pray. Just continue to pray," Tangellia said. "There's strength in numbers, and I think [if] we all come together as a community, he will get ahead of this."

Read more about the multiple protests and rallies held across metro Atlanta in support of both Palestine and Israel: