Man sets himself on fire outside Manhattan courthouse

NEW YORK, NY – A man who self-immolated in the vicinity of a New York City courthouse, where a trial involving former President Trump’s hush money was underway, has succumbed to his injuries, authorities confirmed.

Maxwell Azzarello, a 37-year-old resident of St. Augustine, Florida, passed away from severe burns on Friday night. Azzarello had set himself ablaze earlier in the day at Collect Pond Park, located near the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse. The New York City Police Department confirmed his death, which occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m.

Eyewitnesses reported that Azzarello rummaged through his backpack around 1:30 p.m., scattering numerous pamphlets before dousing himself with a flammable liquid and igniting a lighter. The pamphlets, linked to a Substack page, contained propaganda and promoted various conspiracy theories, including allegations of mob fronts in educational institutions.

After being engulfed by the flames, Azzarello stumbled a few steps, crashed into a police barrier, and collapsed. Court officers, police officers, and bystanders attempted to douse the fire using coats and other available items. The fire was ultimately extinguished by responding police officers.

Azzarello was rushed to a burn center in critical condition. Four officers also sustained minor injuries due to exposure to the fire.

A self-proclaimed investigative researcher, Azzarello had arrived in New York City earlier in the week and had been protesting outside the courthouse, targeting both Republican and Democrat politicians. His family was unaware of his travel to the city.

A police official revealed on Friday afternoon that Azzarello had posted about the event online before the incident. In a manifesto on the Substack page, Azzarello claimed his extreme protest was to highlight a “totalitarian con” and a looming “apocalyptic fascist world coup” by the government and its allies.

The park was open to the public during the incident, and Azzarello did not violate any security protocols, according to the police.

Azzarello had been arrested thrice in Florida in August last year for disturbing the peace and property damage. His erratic behavior included throwing a glass of wine at former President Bill Clinton’s autographed wall in a hotel lobby and stripping down to his underwear to yell at customers at the same hotel. Florida police labeled Azzarello as suicidal following his third arrest.