Home » Florida man set himself on fire near NYC courthouse holding Trump trial

Florida man set himself on fire near NYC courthouse holding Trump trial

by John Jefferson
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A man set himself on fire Friday outside the New York courthouse where the criminal trial of former President Trump was being held, authorities said. 

Maxwell Azzarello, 38, a resident of St. Augustine, Florida, entered Collect Pond Park near the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse around 1:30 p.m. and began looking through a backpack he was carrying, the New York Police Department said. 

He then took “numerous” pamphlets out and threw them in the air,” said NYPD Chief of Department, Jeffrey B. Maddrey. 

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“And then he pulls out a canister and pours some kind of liquid on himself, a liquid we believe was an accelerant and then he lights himself on fire,” Maddrey said. 

Once engulfed in flames, Azzarello took a few steps and fell onto a police barrier and to the ground. Parkgoers, court officers and police officers tried to extinguish the flames with coats and other items, police. The fire was eventually extinguished by responding police. 

Azzarello was taken to a burn center in critical condition. 

“His condition is not good,” one NYPD official said. 

Four officers had minor injuries from exposure to the fire, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. Authorities said they learned that Azzarello arrived in New York earlier this week. His family members were unaware he was in the city. 

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Mugshot of Maxwell Azzarello and pamphlets on the ground

The pamphlets found at the scene were “propoganda-based,” authorities said, and promoted far-reaching conspiracy theories such as that “some of our educational institutions are a front for the mob.”

It “appears he did post something about this event online prior to the incident,” a police official said.

The park was open to the public at the time of the incident but Azzarello didn’t breach any security protocols, police said. 

“We’ll talk to our federal partners and we’ll make a decision if we have to tighten up security and maybe we’ll shut down the park,” Maddrey said. 

Collect Pond Park

Witness William Schoeffler said he was checking out the park where Trump supporters were talking when he saw a man cover himself in gas.

“This guy just starts dousing himself with gas,” he told FOX 5 NY. “He covered himself in enough gas that he just lit himself on fire.”

Authorities said the Secret Service was aware of what happened outside the courthouse. 

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