Man sets himself on fire near Trump trial courthouse in NYC. Here’s what we know so far.


Emergency crews rushed away a person on a stretcher after a fire was extinguished outside the courthouse where jury selection for former President Donald Trump’s trial is taking place. Witnesses say they saw a man pour liquid over his head and set himself on fire.

The New York Police Department identified the man as 37-year-old Max Azzarello, of Florida, and they said he had arrived in New York City earlier in the week.

The New York City Fire Department said it responded to reports of an individual on fire and transported one patient in critical condition to New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center.

At a briefing Friday afternoon, the NYPD said he remains in critical condition and is intubated. Police described his condition as “very critical” but said he was still alive.

At the briefing, the NYPD said Azzarello walked into the park, opened up a book bag and scattered papers and pamphlets before pouring what law enforcement believes to be liquid accelerant on his head and set himself on fire. He fell onto a police barrier, and civilians and court officers ran to the park, using coats and extinguishers to try to put out the fire. The FDNY responded, extinguishing the fire and taking him to the burn unit at New York Presbyterian.

Four officers who responded to the fire suffered minor injuries.

The police also said that Azzarello arrived in New York “sometime earlier in the week.”

“We have his car being in St. Augustine, Florida, on (April 13). So, anywhere between the 13th and today, he arrived,” one official said. “We spoke to family members — they were unaware that he was even in New York.”

Police officials confirmed that Azzarello appeared to have posted a statement on social media. An official at the briefing described the papers he threw in the park as “like a conspiracy-theory type of pamphlet.”

Although the incident took place close to the court where Trump’s trial is taking place, officials said Azzarello did not appear to be targeting any particular person or group and added that he seemed to be a conspiracy theorist.

Multiple people witnessed the incident at Collect Pond Park.

A police officer uses a fire extinguisher as emergency personnel respond to a fire outside the courthouse where former President Donald Trump's "hush money" trial is underway in New York, April 19, 2024.
A police officer uses a fire extinguisher as emergency personnel respond to a fire outside the courthouse where former President Donald Trump’s “hush money” trial is underway in New York, April 19, 2024.

Reuters/Brendan McDermid


One witness described pamphlets that the person threw, apparently while making allegations about New York University. 

“I heard this clattering, and it was those papers that he had flung up in the air,” the witness said.

“That caught our attention and — caught my attention, anyway … then he pulled out a can and he poured it over himself. And at that point, I thought, ‘Oh … this is gonna be awful.'”

“It happened so fast — what do you do,” another witness said. 

Allie Weintraub contributed to this report.



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