A Suffolk County police patrol officer saved a suicidal man who'd set himself on fire Wednesday night in his vehicle in a movie theater parking lot in Stony Brook, police said Thursday.

The victim, identified only as a 42-year-old Centereach man, was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, police said. Sixth Precinct Officer Matthew Merced was treated at Stony Brook for shoulder and arm injuries and was later released, police said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The fiery rescue occurred in the parking lot of the AMC Loews Theatres on Nesconset Highway at 11:23 p.m., police said. Police said the man had been reported missing and Merced was on the lookout for him when he encountered the man in the parking lot. Merced spoke briefly with the man, police said, then contacted the man's family.

When a relative arrived, police said the man entered his SUV, poured a flammable liquid into his lap and struck a match. As the man and his SUV caught fire, Merced pulled him out and rolled him on the ground and smothered any flames with a sweatshirt, police said.