Man who set himself on fire outside Trump’s Manhattan hush money trial dies

  • By Thomas Mackintosh
  • BBC News

Video caption, Someone shouted ‘don’t do it’ before man sets himself on fire – BBC journalist

A man who set himself on fire outside the Manhattan courthouse where former President Donald Trump’s secret trial is being held has died.

Maxwell Azzarello, 37, doused himself with liquid before throwing conspiracy theory pamphlets into the air.

This came as jury selection for Mr. Trump’s trial was completed.

He was taken to hospital in critical condition on Friday, where he later died, CBS News, the BBC’s US partner, confirmed.

Mr. Trump was in the building to attend jury selection, where he had security guards, but the former president left during the incident.

New York City police said Saturday morning that Mr. Azzarello had been pronounced dead by hospital staff, NBC reported.

Court security was not compromised during Friday’s incident, emergency services said. The case, which had just concluded with alternate jury selection, resumed later in the afternoon. Opening statements are expected to begin Monday.

Investigators said they received an emergency 911 call around 1:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. BMT) that a man had set himself on fire.

They identified him as Maxwell Azzarello, 37, who arrived in New York from his home in Florida within the past week. He had no criminal record in New York and his family in Florida was unaware he had been there.

New York Police Chief Jeffrey Maddrey said Mr Azzarello was seen “shuffling” around the park before searching a bag for the flammable liquid and pamphlets.

Legend, Maxwell Azzarello holds a sign outside Manhattan courthouse Thursday

The pamphlets were “propaganda-based,” Chief Maddrey said, adding that they were about a “conspiracy theory.”

There was a massive police presence outside the courthouse due to the trial, and officers quickly ran into the park shouting for a fire extinguisher. Mr Azzarello was carried out on a stretcher, his body badly burned. Police said he was taken to a burn hospital in critical condition.

Witness Julie Berman told reporters, “It was hot and it didn’t make much sense. It all happened so fast…it took me about 20 seconds to realize what was happening.”

NYPD investigators were later seen collecting pamphlets that Mr. Azzarello had scattered before self-immolating. They deemed the area safe.

Investigators are still interviewing witnesses and say he didn’t appear to say anything before setting himself on fire.

Three NYPD officers and a clerk suffered minor injuries after helping to put out the fire.

Officials said they will now re-evaluate security outside the court.

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