A Colorado man died from injuries after setting himself on fire on Friday in front of the Supreme Court in an apparent protest against climate change. 

Police in Washington, D.C., said Sunday that 50-year-old Wynn Bruce of Boulder, Colo., died as a result of an act of self-immolation. Bruce set himself ablaze on April 22, coinciding with the celebration of Earth Day, which celebrates support for environmental protection worldwide. 

Friends of Bruce said he did not have a clear motivation for the act, but others suggested it had to do with his concern over worsening climate change. 

Ahead of his death, Bruce had posted a cryptic Facebook message that included the date for Earth Day and a fire emoji. In hindsight, it appeared like an ominous clue as to what Bruce may have been planning.

Yet friends and loved ones appear conflicted on whether or not Bruce had simply committed suicide or if he had intended for his act to send a message about the worsening effects of climate change. 

Kritee Kanko, a Boulder-based climate scientist and Zen Buddhist priest, described Bruce in a tweet on Sunday as a friend and a member of her Buddhist community. She said that Bruce was planning an action at least a year in advance, but later told the New York Times that information was still being pieced together to determine his exact motivations.

As for the act itself, Kanko described it  an “act of compassion" practiced by other Buddhists.

“This act is not suicide,” Kritee wrote on Sunday. “This is a deeply fearless act of compassion to bring attention to the climate crisis.”

Bruce, who has been identified as a Buddhist, may have been following previous episodes where an activist burned themselves alive in protest. During the Vietnam War, Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh set himself on fire in Saigon in protest of the the conflict, an act that resonated as far as within the White House.  In January, Bruce posted a tribute to Hahn on the anniversary of his death.

There is other evidence to suggest that Bruce’s decision to self-immolate had ample symbolism in mind. Simultaneous to Bruce’s action, the Supreme Court was in the midst of considering a case related to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) capacity to regulate pollution. 

The court’s conservative majority had earlier expressed skepticism on whether the agency was allowed this power and a ruling against it would strike a major blow to efforts to combat climate change domestically.