Who is Maxwell Azzarello? The ‘homeless’ man who self-immolated outside Donald Trump's hush-money trial - Hindustan Times
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Who is Maxwell Azzarello? The ‘homeless’ man who self-immolated outside Donald Trump's hush-money trial

Apr 20, 2024 05:20 AM IST

According to the NYPD, the man who set himself on fire just outside Donald Trump's courthouse is a self-proclaimed “investigative researcher”.

A man set himself on fire after dousing himself with a liquid and scattering fliers into the air, just outside Donald Trump's hus-money trial in New York City.

A person is covered in flames outside the courthouse where former U.S. President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial is underway, in New York, U.S., April 19, 2024 in this screen grab taken from a pool video. Reuters TV via REUTERS(via REUTERS)
A person is covered in flames outside the courthouse where former U.S. President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial is underway, in New York, U.S., April 19, 2024 in this screen grab taken from a pool video. Reuters TV via REUTERS(via REUTERS)

Who was the man?

NYPD has released information regarding an individual who self-immolated.

Jeffrey Maddrey, the NYPD’s Chief of Department, reported that the individual, named Maxwell Azzarello, entered the park, distributed several pamphlets, and then set himself ablaze.

He almost instantly collapsed onto an NYPD barricade.

Azzarello is from St. Augustine, Florida, and is now in critical condition at a burn unit at Cornell University. He is a self-proclaimed “investigative researcher.”

Joe Kenny, the NYPD’s Chief of Detectives, stated that Azzarello had arrived in New York City earlier in the week, and described his act as “propaganda”.

He also revealed that Azzarello remained silent before igniting the fire.

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Azzarello’s family has been informed of the incident by the authorities.

“We’re very concerned,” expressed Maddrey. “This man did not breach security protocols.”

Maddrey assured that plans are in place to ensure substantial security moving forward.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, Tarik Sheppard, remarked, “No one knew this guy was going to light himself on fire.”

NYPD also told the New York Post that the man was in his 20s and looked “homeless”.

Why did the man set himself on fire?

While the motive behind the man’s actions remains unclear, law enforcement sources revealed that he is a part of a protestor group.

Even the motive behind their protest is also shrouded in mystery.

One of the fliers he threw on air, titled“The true history of the world: haunted carnival edition.”

“NYU is a mob front,” Another pamphlet noted.

“I have set myself on fire outside the Trump Trial,” fliers left on the street stemming from a substack page said.

The Substack page said this(Substack/Max Azzarello)
The Substack page said this(Substack/Max Azzarello)

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Reporters, including those on a live CNN broadcast, noted the lingering odour of burning flesh following the incident.

The New York City Fire Department confirmed that the individual was transported to the hospital in critical condition at 1:41 p.m.

Footage captured bystanders rushing to extinguish the flames with fire extinguishers as the man burned.

According to Fox News, the man had approached pro-Trump demonstrators earlier, offering them “colourful pieces of paper”.

A video footage shows him engulfed in flames while seated, with responders hurriedly deploying fire extinguishers to quell the fire.

Several eyewitnesses described scenes of chaos as bystanders screamed while witnessing the man consumed by bright orange flames.

“I can smell burnt flesh and see fire,” one bystander said.

The incident happened in the vicinity of Collect Pond Park, adjacent to the Manhattan courthouse where jury selection for Trump’s criminal trial was underway.

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Witnesses reported that Trump supporters in the area hastily evacuated as the self-immolation occurred.

Even after the fire was extinguished, smoke continued to rise from the pavement, and remnants of ash and debris littered the street. The incident transpired around 1:35 p.m., shortly before the trial proceedings adjourned for lunch.

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