Man who set himself on fire outside courthouse during Trump trial dies

NEW YORK — A man lit himself on fire Friday outside a New York City courthouse where a jury was being chosen for the criminal trial of former President Donald Trump, police said.

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Authorities identified the man as Maxwell Azzarello, a Florida man in his 30s. He was in critical condition at a hospital on Friday afternoon. He has since died from his injuries.

Man who set himself on fire dies

Update 8:05 p.m. EDT April 19: Maxwell Azzarello, 37, died at the hospital Friday night from his injuries, according to The New York Times. New York City Police Department confirmed his death early Saturday, The Washington Post and The Associated Press reported.

-- Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Man threw ‘conspiracy theory-type’ pamphlets before lighting self on fire

Update 3:35 p.m. EDT April 19: Witnesses and police said that Azzarello threw pamphlets into the air shortly before he lit himself on fire across the street from the courthouse where jurors were being chosen for the Trump trial.

“The pamphlets seemed to be propaganda-based, almost like a conspiracy theory-type of pamphlet,” New York Police Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said. They included “some information in regards to Ponzi schemes and the fact that some of our local educational institutes are fronts for the mob,” he added.

Kenny noted that Azzarello posted on social media before he self-immolated on Friday afternoon. His online posts and profiles were being combed by police.

Authorities are reviewing security protocols for outside the courthouse as the Trump trial continues. Opening statements are set to start on Monday morning.

Man who set himself on fire identified

Update 3:25 p.m. EDT April 19: The man who set himself on fire outside the New York City courthouse where the Trump trial is being held has been identified as Maxwell Azzarello, a Florida man in his 30s, police said.

Authorities are combing through Azzarello’s social media accounts. New York Police Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said Azzarello appeared to have posted online about the Trump trial before he went near the courthouse on Friday afternoon.

Investigators believe that Azzarello doused himself with an accelerant before he lit himself on fire. Kenny described it as “some alcohol-based substance that’s used for cleaning.”

4 officers had minor injuries from fire exposure

Update 3:20 p.m. EDT April 19: New York City Fire Department Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said four people had minor injuries due to their exposure to the fire outside the courthouse on Friday afternoon.

The officers, three with the New York City Police Department and another with the courthouse, were injured.

“They are all fine, they are stable,” Kavanaugh said.

Man in critical condition after setting himself on fire outside courthouse

Update 3:15 p.m. EDT April 19: The man, a Florida resident who arrived in New York earlier in the week, was in critical condition at a hospital after lighting himself on fire outside the courthouse on Friday afternoon.

Police said they saw the man, who is originally from St. Augustine, walk into Collect Pond Park, across the street from the courthouse, around 1:30 p.m. EDT.

Original report: The incident happened as reporters were gathered outside of the courthouse to cover Trump’s trial, CNN reported. On-air, reporter Laura Coates said it appeared that a man had set himself on fire.

The man doused himself with a liquid around 1:35 p.m. in Collect Pond Park, across the street from the courthouse, according to The New York Times. He was in an area cordoned off for supporters of Trump, the newspaper reported.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the man. A witness, Manhattan resident Julie Berman, told The Washington Post that he carried a sign about Trump and President Joe Biden Biden working together to orchestrate a “coup” and another about a “Ponzi scheme.” She said he told her to get back before he doused himself in a liquid, threw some fliers into the air, doused himself a second time and flicked a lighter, setting himself on fire.

“It happened so fast and took my mind so long to catch up,” she told the Post.

Emergency crews rushed the man away on a stretcher after the flames were extinguished, The Associated Press reported. He was taken to New-York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in critical condition, the New York City Fire Department told the Times.

The incident happened a short while after a full panel of 12 jurors and six alternates was chosen to deliberate in Trump’s hush money trial. Opening statements in the case are expected to start on Monday.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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