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Man who set himself on fire outside Trump hush money trial dies, NYC police say

Thomas Tracy, New York Daily News on

Published in Political News

NEW YORK — Max Azzarello, who set himself on fire outside Manhattan Criminal Court where former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial was being held, has died of his extensive self-inflicted injuries, police said Saturday.

The Florida resident set himself on fire inside Collect Pond Park across the street from the courthouse to draw attention to his conspiracy theories about an upcoming “apocalyptic fascist world coup” at about 1:30 p.m. Friday, shocking onlookers making their way through the park.

“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 the fire (started), it was just disbelief.

“I never saw anything like this,” he said.

Azzarello was rushed to the burn unit at New York Presbyterian-Cornell Hospital, where he died just before midnight, police confirmed.

There was no indication Azzarello had any specific grievances related to the trial or Trump.

Three NYPD police officers monitoring the press outside the courthouse and a court officer suffered smoke inhalation as they tried to extinguish the fire before the FDNY arrived, NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said 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,” the 37-year-old Floridian 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 had on him directed people to where his manifesto was posted online, officials said.

Azzarello recently arrived in Manhattan from Florida, cops said. Police had been in contact with his family, who said they didn’t know he was in the city.

Word of the self-immolation occurred as prosecutors and Trump’s attorneys finished selecting the final alternate jurors for the hush money trial involving porn actress Stormy Daniels, which is expected to continue on Monday.

His rambling screed touched on ponzi schemes, bank failures, the rise of cryptocurrency, the television show “The Simpsons” and Harvard University, which he called “one of the largest organized crime fronts in history.”

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

The NYPD was expected to review security procedures both inside and outside the courthouse following Friday’s fire. The park was open to the public Friday afternoon so Azzarello “did not breach the security protocols” the NYPD made with court officers and the secret service, Maddrey explained.

“We will reassess our security with our federal partners,” he said.

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