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Man Units Himself on Fireplace Close to Courthouse The place Trump Is on Trial

A person set himself on fireplace on Friday afternoon close to the Decrease Manhattan courthouse the place jurors have been being chosen for the legal trial of former President Donald J. Trump.

The person, who had lingered exterior the Manhattan Felony Courthouse earlier this week, doused himself with accelerant at round 1:35 p.m. in Accumulate Pond Park, throughout the road from the constructing. Onlookers screamed and began to run, and shortly, vivid orange flames engulfed the person. He threw leaflets espousing anti-government conspiracy theories into the air earlier than setting himself on fireplace.

Individuals rushed and tried to place out the flames, however the depth of the warmth may very well be felt from a long way.

After a minute or two, dozens of cops arrived, working round and climbing over barricades to extinguish the blaze. The person was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to a hospital burn unit. He died on Friday evening.

Metropolis officers recognized the person as Max Azzarello, 37, of St. Augustine, Fla. Mr. Azzarello had appeared exterior the courthouse on Thursday, holding an indication displaying the handle of a web site the place the identical pamphlets have been uploaded. The highest put up of the web site says, “I’ve set myself on fireplace exterior the Trump Trial.”

Mr. Azzarello walked round Decrease Manhattan earlier within the week, holding an indication on Wednesday vital of New York College at Washington Sq. Park earlier than shifting on Thursday to Accumulate Pond Park.

On the park on Thursday, Mr. Azzarello had held up varied indicators and at one level shouted towards a bunch of reporters gathered there, “Largest scoop of your life or your a refund!” Considered one of his indicators claimed that Mr. Trump and President Biden have been “about to fascist coup us.”

Officers recognized the person who set himself on fireplace as Max Azzarello, 37, of St. Augustine, Fla. He appeared exterior the courthouse on Thursday. Credit score…Nate Schweber for The New York Instances

In an interview that day, he stated his vital views of the American authorities have been formed by his analysis into Peter Thiel, the know-how billionaire and political provocateur who’s a significant marketing campaign donor, and into cryptocurrency.

Mr. Azzarello stated he had relocated from Washington Sq. Park as a result of with the chilly climate, he thought extra folks can be exterior the courthouse.

“Trump’s in on it,” Mr. Azzarello stated on Thursday. “It’s a secret kleptocracy, and it will probably solely result in an apocalyptic fascist coup.”

Mr. Azzarello arrived in New York Metropolis someday after April 13, the police stated, and his household in St. Augustine didn’t learn about his whereabouts till after the incident. Whereas Mr. Azzarello was not too long ago in Florida, he had connections to the New York Metropolis space and labored for Consultant Tom Suozzi throughout his 2013 marketing campaign for Nassau County government on Lengthy Island.

A person at a Brooklyn handle related to a doable relative of Mr. Azarello’s declined to touch upon Thursday.

Over the previous 12 months, nevertheless, Mr. Azzarello’s habits appeared to turn into extra erratic. He was arrested 3 times in 2023 on misdemeanor fees in Florida, and he posted on-line in August that he had simply spent three days in a psychiatric hospital.

Later that month, whereas eating on the Casa Monica Lodge in St. Augustine, he threw a glass of wine at a framed autograph of former President Invoice Clinton. He confirmed as much as the resort once more, two days in a while Aug. 21, stripped to his underwear and shouted profanities at friends whereas blasting music from a speaker.

Three days later, police arrested him for defacing and breaking indicators belonging to a number of companies. He took a pest management signal from the yard of 1 enterprise that had warned passers-by to maintain kids and pets away for his or her security. In feedback to the police, he stated that “the pest management firm was there to exterminate kids and canine.”

His mug shot exhibits Mr. Azzarello sticking his tongue out.

Along with his web site, Mr. Azzarello was additionally lively on social media, selling anti-government literature on Instagram. Most of his on-line posts earlier than the spring of 2022 have been of his travels and his household, and he famous that his mom died in April 2022 from issues of power obstructive pulmonary illness.

A couple of 12 months later, he posted a photograph of what gave the impression to be his Covid-19 vaccination card — defaced with the phrases “Tremendous Ponzi” and the image for Bitcoin.

Individuals who witnessed the fireplace stated they have been in disbelief as they noticed Mr. Azzarello, who was in an space of the park reserved for supporters of Mr. Trump, toss the pamphlets into the air after which flames shoot towards the sky. Mr. Azzarello, who was carrying denims and darkish grey T-shirt, fell to the bottom amid the fireplace.

A number of the pamphlets referred to New York College as a “mob entrance” and in addition talked about former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Al Gore and the lawyer David Boies, who represented Mr. Gore within the 2000 presidential election recount. One other pamphlet contained anti-government conspiracy theories, although they didn’t level in a discernible political path.

Most officers who responded to the fireplace on Thursday ran from the path of the courthouse, which is a few hundred ft throughout the road; some struggled to instantly attain Mr. Azzarello due to metal barricades within the park.

Al Baker, a spokesman for the courtroom system, stated the trial schedule wouldn’t be affected, although one courtroom officer had been taken to hospital due to the results of smoke inhalation.

Fred Gates, 60, stated he had been driving his bike by means of the park when he stopped to observe the Trump supporters and noticed Mr. Azzarello on the brink of mild himself on fireplace. Mr. Gates stated he thought it was a prank or a efficiency till he noticed the flames.

One other witness, Gideon Oliver, a civil rights lawyer, stated he noticed smoke rising from the park and a courtroom officer dashing from a constructing carrying a hearth extinguisher.

“After I noticed and smelled the smoke I believed somebody, I assumed one of many pro-Trump protesters, had lit a hearth within the park,” Mr. Oliver stated. “After I noticed police and courtroom officers working, I then thought it might need been a bomb.”

Mr. Azzarello stood tall as he poured the accelerant on himself after which held a flame at chest stage. As folks nearest him fled, others cried out as they realized what he was about to do.

Screams and shouts — although not from him — crammed the air because the flames consumed him and he slowly collapsed.

If you’re having ideas of suicide, you’ll be able to name or textual content 988 to achieve the 988 Suicide and Disaster Lifeline or go to for a listing of extra sources.

Wesley Parnell, Alan Feuer, Chelsia Rose Marcius, Jan Ransom, Maria Cramer, Stefanos Chen, Nicholas Fandos and Dana Rubinstein contributed reporting.

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