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Man sets himself on fire near New York courthouse where Donald Trump is on trial

Man sets himself on fire near New York courthouse where Donald Trump is on trial


NEW YORK (WABC) — A man set himself on fire with an accelerator Friday near the New York courthouse where former President Donald Trump is on trial.

Trump was inside the Lower Manhattan courthouse, where jury selection had just concluded shortly after 1:30 p.m.

The NYPD identified the man as Max Azzarello, 37, of St. Augustine, Florida. He arrived in New York earlier this week.

Police said he entered Collect Pond Park, an area where protesters and members of the public can gather, and threw leaflets into the air.

Eyewitness News spoke to a witness who said the man then silently doused himself with what appeared to be gasoline. The NYPD later said the accelerant appeared to be an alcohol-based cleaning solution.

“He got wet and then took out a lighter,” the witness said. “It reminded me of what happened in the Vietnam War. I've seen videos of these things.”

Police officers ran from all directions to help. A detective tried to smother the flames with his coat.

Someone then came with a fire extinguisher to pull it out. Azzarello was rushed to New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in very critical condition.

Several police officers were slightly injured.

The pamphlets appear to be conspiratorial in nature, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Joe Kenny. Detectives are investigating his movements since arriving in New York

Police said they were reviewing the man's Substack page, with the headline: “I set myself on fire outside of the Trump trial.”

Azzarello described himself as an “investigative researcher” and explained in 2,648 words why he set himself on fire.

It appears Azzarello was not targeting any particular person or group, officials said, describing him as a “conspiracy theorist.”

It appears he acted alone, officials said.

“We are very concerned,” said department chief Jeffrey Maddrey. He said the NYPD would review security protocol due to the “severity of the current event,” referring to the Trump trial.

The NYPD bomb squad was sweeping the area very cautiously.

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