Florida Man Sets Himself on Fire in Broad Daylight Outside Donald Trump Hush Money Trial Courthouse

By Jace Dela Cruz

Apr 20, 2024 05:50 AM EDT

A Florida man set himself on fire on Friday outside a New York courthouse where former President Donald Trump's hush money criminal trial was being held. 

Jury Selection Continues In Former President Donald Trump's New York Hush Money Trial
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 19: Former U.S. President Donald Trump walks back to the courtroom after a lunch break during his criminal trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 19, 2024 in New York City.
(Photo : Sarah Yenesel - Pool/Getty Images)

Florida Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside a New York Courthouse Where Donald Trump's Hush Money Trial Takes Place

According to Reuters, the Florida man, identified by police as Max Azzarello of St. Augustine, Florida, and believed to be in his late 30s, burned for a few minutes in full view of TV cameras set up outside the court.

Witnesses said Azzarello pulled pamphlets from a backpack and tossed them in the air before drenching himself with a flammable liquid and setting himself ablaze.

Although one of those pamphlets reportedly contained references to "evil billionaires," it did not specifically mention Donald Trump. The New York Police Department said Azzarello did not seem to be targeting Trump or other participants in the trial.

Tarik Sheppard, a deputy commissioner with the New York Police Department, labeled the man as a "conspiracy theorist." In an online manifesto by someone with the same name, the author apologized to friends, witnesses, and first responders and warned about "an apocalyptic fascist coup," as well as slammed cryptocurrency and US politicians but did not focus on Trump.

The media reported early Saturday that the hospital where Azzarello was taken said he had died.

READ NEXT:  Donald Trump Fails to Block Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels From Testifying at Hush Money Trial

Hush Money Criminal Trial Against Donald Trump

The horrifying incident happened just after jury selection for the trial was completed, setting the stage for the opening statements of prosecutors and defense attorneys on Monday.

Donald Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection to the alleged hiding of reimbursement payments to his former lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen for the money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The payment was to allegedly silence the porn star who claimed she had sex with Trump in 2006. Trump has denied the sexual encounter and pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records. 

READ MORE: Melania Trump Among Potential Witnesses in Donald Trump Hush Money Criminal Trial: Can She Be Forced to Take the Stand?

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