Man sets himself on fire outside of Trump’s New York hush-money trial | Donald Trump News

US emergency crews doused the flames and took the man away on stretcher. He remains in critical condition.

A man has set himself on fire outside of the Manhattan courthouse where former United States President Donald Trump is currently standing trial on criminal charges of falsifying business records, authorities said.

The incident happened on Friday afternoon, as the fourth day of the Trump trial unfolded. Witnesses reported seeing the man covered in flames outside of the courthouse, in a park across the street.

A correspondent for CNN was reporting live on air when the incident occurred. “There is chaos that is happening,” CNN anchor Laura Coates said, describing the scene. “I can smell the burning of the agent used.”

“We now have officers removing their coats, trying to surround his body to engulf him from further going into flames,” she continued. “People are climbing over the barricade to try to separate the public from this man.”

A video showed the man was still in flames and twitching on the concrete as a police officer rushed over with a fire extinguisher.

He was later identified as Maxwell Azzarello, a native of St Augustine, Florida, who arrived in New York earlier in the week. Police officials said he was in critical condition.

They did not give Azzarello’s exact age but indicated he was born in 1987. He used an alcohol-based cleaning substance to light the blaze.

“Right now we are labeling him as sort of a conspiracy theorist, and we are going from there,” said Tarik Sheppard, a deputy commissioner with the New York Police Department.

Witnesses on the scene also told reporters Azzarello threw pamphlets in the air before the incident. One of those pamphlets carried the title, “The True History of the World (Haunted Carnival Edition)” and included references to “evil billionaires”.

It was not immediately clear if his actions were directly related to the Trump trial. In an online manifesto, Azzarello denounced “an apocalyptic fascist coup” but did not specify Trump.

Trump trial
News trucks are parked near where a man set himself on fire outside of the Trump trial in New York City [Angela Weiss/AFP]

Politico reporter Emily Ngo said that police appeared to have trouble initially reaching Azzarello due to the barricades placed around the park.

There have been massive security precautions in place to protect the courthouse while the trial is under way.

Inside, Trump faces felony charges related to hush money payments he allegedly made to adult film star Stormy Daniels. The proceedings mark the first criminal trial of a former US president in the country’s history.

Reporters from across the world have been staked out at the courthouse during the trial.

Writing on the social media platform X, Ngo described the fire incident as a “very scary, active scene”.

“He was responsive when he was removed but he is very, very badly burned. Body charred,” she wrote of Azzarello.

Witnesses at the scene said that pro-Trump supporters were near to him when he set himself on fire. They scattered as the blaze grew.

Azzarello was carried away on a stretcher. A backpack and a gas can remained visible at the scene.

A backpack is left behind where a man reportedly set himself on fire outside the Trump trial in New York City [Angela Weiss/AFP]

Moments before the incident, jury selection had concluded. A full jury of 12 people and six alternates were seated for Trump’s trial, setting the stage for opening statements next week.

The jury includes a sales professional, a software engineer, an English teacher and multiple lawyers.

Lawyers for the prosecution and defence have spent days questioning hundreds of New Yorkers to determine whether they can serve on the jury with impartiality and fairness. Dozens of potential jurors were dismissed after saying they did not believe they could meet that standard.

The judge has ruled that the jurors’ names will be known only to prosecutors, Trump and their legal teams.

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