United States

Man Dies After Setting Himself On Fire Outside New York Courthouse

A man died after setting himself on fire outside the New York City courthouse where former President Trump's trial is ongoing.

Photo: A police officer uses a fire extinguisher as emergency personnel respond to a report of a person covered in flames outside the New York courthouse.

An incident unfolded outside the New York City courthouse where the hush money trial involving former President Donald Trump is underway. According to authorities, a man set himself on fire, later succumbing to his injuries.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) identified the individual as 37-year-old Max Azzarello. Witnesses recounted the harrowing scene, stating that Azzarello poured liquid over himself before igniting the flames at approximately 1:39 pm local time on Friday.

In a briefing following the incident, the NYPD disclosed that Azzarello, a resident of Florida who had recently arrived in New York City, entered Collect Pond Park prior to the act. He emptied a book bag, dispersing papers and pamphlets described by authorities as "like a conspiracy-theory type of pamphlet."

Subsequently, Azzarello set himself ablaze, collapsing onto a police barrier. Courageous civilians and court officers intervened, using their coats and extinguishers in an attempt to quell the fire. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) swiftly responded, ultimately extinguishing the flames.

Despite efforts to save him, Azzarello sustained critical injuries and was transported to New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center, which houses a specialized burn centre. He died on Friday night, as confirmed by the NYPD.

The distressing incident also resulted in minor injuries to four officers who responded to the scene.

Officials revealed that Azzarello had posted a statement on social media. However, they emphasized that while the episode occurred in proximity to Trump's trial, Azzarello did not seem to target any specific individual or group. Authorities characterized him as a conspiracy theorist.

Witnesses recounted Azzarello's actions, noting the scattering of pamphlets, which appeared to contain allegations related to New York University.

"I heard this clattering, and it was those papers that he had flung up in the air," one witness recounted. "That caught our attention, and ... then he pulled out a can and he poured it over himself. And at that point, I thought, 'Oh ... this is gonna be awful.'"

Reflecting on the rapid sequence of events, another witness lamented, "It happened so fast — what do you do?"