Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Trial

The Guardian

Lex Valluzzi, Staff Writer

On April 19, passersby were shocked at the events that unfolded outside the courthouse in New York City where former president Donald Trump’s hush money trial was being held. A man arrived in the city earlier that week, poured a flammable liquid over his head, and set himself ablaze. The man has been identified as 37-year-old Max Azzarello.  

Witnesses stated that Azzarello had entered Collect Pond Park, opening a backpack and  scattering papers to what the NYPD describes as “conspiracy-theory like” pamphlets on the  ground before igniting himself. Azzarello then collapsed on a police barrier as witnesses tried to  extinguish the fire with their coats. The FDNY responded to the incident and finally extinguished  the fire after it had burned for nearly two minutes. 

Azzarello was transported to the New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center in critical condition. The NYPD have confirmed that Azzarello died from his injuries later that night. Four police officers also suffered minor injuries while responding to the incident.  

An investigation has opened up in regard to the reasoning behind Azzarello’s actions. It has been deemed that this was not an act of terrorism, nor is he involved with any particular group. Witnesses state that before the fire, Azzarello was making some allegations about New York University being a front for the mob. Witnesses also stated that Azzarello made some incomprehensible political statements. Before his death, Azzarello published a two thousand-word manifesto and created “propaganda” pamphlets that were distributed. It has been determined that Azzarello was a conspiracy theorist, and his actions were not aimed at Trump or his supporters. 

Before the incident social media posts were uploaded to all of Azzarello’s platforms making critical remarks about both democratic and republican politicians. There were also statements that were anti-government as a whole.   

The motives for Azzarello’s actions are still unclear. In the manifesto, Azzarello stated “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.”  

Azzarello’s friends and family have come forward since the incident to make statements. His  friends described him as a conspiracy theorist who was troubled in his youth, but this did not  sound anything like him. His family did not even know he was in New York City. 

There are still a lot of questions surrounding Azzarello’s case. Why did he decide to burn himself? Why did he choose that specific location? Police have been taking a deeper look into his past for possible answers.

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