Home » Max Azzarello posted anti-establishment conspiracies online. He died after setting himself on fire outside Trump’s trial courthouse

Max Azzarello posted anti-establishment conspiracies online. He died after setting himself on fire outside Trump’s trial courthouse

by John Jefferson
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Max Azzarello, 37, who died after setting himself on fire outside the Manhattan courthouse, had recently started posting anti-establishment “conspiracy theories” online, including a lengthy article on Substack which blasted corrupt politicians, and billionaires and even made reference to The Simpsons.

The manifesto-style document warned of an impending “apocalyptic fascist world coup.”

At 1.30pm ET on Friday 19 April, he entered a park outside the New York courthouse, where Donald Trump’s historic criminal trial is taking place, and set himself on fire. The horrific incident lasted several minutes before the flames were extinguished by police officers and court staff.

Police told NBC news that he was declared dead by the hospital after he was admitted with severe burn injuries. No time of death was given by the police.

Here’s what we know:

Who is the victim?

In his lengthy post, Mr Azzarello described himself as an “investigative researcher”.

Maxwell Azzarello pictured protesting outside Donald Trump’s trial at Manhattan Criminal Court one day before self-immolating near the same location (Getty Images)

Police said that Mr Azzarello’s driver’s license showed he was born in 1987 and was a native of St Augustine, Florida. A registered Democrat, he attended the University of North Carolina from 2005 to 2009, according to public records and his LinkedIn page.

He is believed to have arrived in New York at some point between April 13 and April 19, though family members who spoke to police said they were unaware that he was in the city.

Mr Azzarello was unknown to police before the incident and did not have a criminal history in New York, police said.

Following the incident Ms Azzarello was described as being in a “very critical condition”, but alive, and being treated at Manhattan’s Weill Cornell Medicine Burn Center.

His beliefs

Maxwell Azzarello reportedly threw pamphlets in the park before self-immolating on Friday (ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Azzarello had a long history of posting conspiracy theories and railing against the rich and powerful, according to NYPD officials, who had begun to comb through his social media profiles.

His lengthy Substack post called out a string of people, social media companies and institutions. He also labelled the Covid-19 pandemic as an “economic doomsday device”.

In the document, Mr Azzarello said that the act of self-immolation was “an extreme act of protest” over a “totalitarian con” and warned of an impending “apocalyptic fascist world coup.”

“To my friends and family, witnesses and first responders, I deeply apologize for inflicting this pain upon you. But I assure you it is a drop in the bucket compared to what our government intends to inflict,” he wrote.

Elsewhere in the lengthy and somewhat rambling post, Azzarello also referred to late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, cryptocurrency, and episodes of The Simpsons.

At one point he compared himself to Lisa Simpson in the episode ‘Lisa the Iconoclast’ writing that he had been “desperately trying to get friends, family, and the public to believe the proof of a totalitarian con I’m trying to show them.

Maxwell Azzarello manifesto screengrab (Social media)

“They’ve turned away with hostility, apathy, disbelief, and partisanship.”

NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny told reporters at a press conference. “The pamphlets [thrown by Mr Azzarello seconds before the incident] seem to be propaganda-based almost like a conspiracy theory type of pamphlets.

“Some information in regards to Ponzi schemes, and the fact that some of our local educational institutes are front for the mob. So a little bit of a conspiracy theory going on here.”

The incident

Police said that Mr Azzarello had not breached any security protocols before the incident, as the park – Collect Pond Park – was open to the public at the time.

Witnesses described how he had walked into the park alone, taken off his jacket and poured gas over his head before lighting himself up.

Seconds before setting himself on fire, he tossed a stack of colourful pamphlets into the air, which is believed to link back to his online Substack post.

A fire extinguisher res on the scene outside the park where Max Azzarello self-immolated on Friday (AFP via Getty Images)

A man who witnessed the shocking incident, which occurred just minutes after the final jurors were selected in the former president’s criminal case, and identified himself as Dave, was visibly shaken.

“Papers clattered on the ground and that caught our attention well my attention anyway and I kinda wondered ‘well what are those papers’,” Dave told The Independent. “But then he pulled out a can and poured it over himself.”

Dave said people around him were “horrified” and became screaming. The incident happened so quickly that nobody was able to stop it.

“It’s awful to see that.”

He was taken by the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) to a burn unit at NewYork-Presbyterian Cornell Medical Center.

He was in critical condition and was later declared deceased by the hospital staff, NYPD said.

According to the fire department, six first responders, including a minimum of three NYPD officers and one court officer, sustained minor injuries while addressing the incident.

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