Florida man who lit himself on fire outside Trump trial courthouse touted conspiracy theories

Molly Crane-Newman, Josephine Stratman, Rocco Parascandola and Thomas Tracy, New York Daily News on

Published in Political News

NEW YORK — A Florida man set himself on fire in a city park across from Manhattan Criminal Court where former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial was being held Friday to draw attention to an array of conspiracy theories including his belief that Ivy League colleges were “fronts for the mob,” authorities said.

There was no indication, however, that the man, Max Azzarello, had any specific grievances related to the trial or Trump.

Court officers and police monitoring reporters and photographers outside the courthouse raced over to put out the pillar of fire that enveloped Azzarello, 37, in a penned-off section of Collect Pond Park across the street at about 1:30 p.m.

“I was about 20 to 30 feet from him. I started yelling, ‘This guy’s doing something, he might be doing something!” Fred Gates, who witnessed the fire, told the Daily News. “When he… when the fire (broke out) it was just disbelief,” he said.

“I never saw anything like this.”

Authorities at a news conference identified the man as a resident of St. Augustine, Florida. He remained in critical condition Friday.


Azzarello, described by authorities as a “conspiracy theorist,” posted a rambling manifesto just before the blaze began.

“I am an investigative researcher who has set himself on fire outside of the Trump trial in Manhattan,” he wrote. “This extreme act of protest is to draw attention to an urgent and important discovery: We are victims of a totalitarian con, and our own government (along with many of their allies) is about to hit us with an apocalyptic fascist world coup.”

A QR code on fliers he carried directed people to where his manifesto was posted online, officials said.

Azzarello recently arrived in Manhattan from Florida, police said.


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