Updated Apr 20, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Man dies after setting himself on fire outside Trump courtroom

Yellow tape closes off an area outside the court house. Multiple people including news crews are seen in the background.

A fire extinguisher is left at the park across from Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City after a person set themself on fire during former President Trump's hush money trial on April 19. Photo: Angela Weiss/Getty Images

A man who set himself on fire outside the Manhattan courthouse where former President Trump is on trial died Friday night, an NYPD spokesperson told Axios.

The big picture: Maxwell Azzarello did not appear to target anyone in particular, authorities said, but he set himself on fire Friday outside of the high-traffic, high-security criminal trial, where a full jury was announced.

  • The case over Trump's alleged involvement with hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential election is the first criminal trial to begin against the presidential candidate.

Driving the news: Azzarello of St. Augustine, Florida, was in critical condition at Weill Cornell Medicine's burn unit on Friday afternoon, Joseph Kenny, NYPD chief of detectives, said during a news conference.

  • His family was unaware he was in New York, where police said he arrived earlier in the week. Azzarello did not breach security barriers to access the park, which was open to the public.
  • He threw conspiracy-based pamphlets throughout the park before pouring an accelerant on himself, NYPD Chief Jeffrey Maddrey said.
  • NYPD spokesperson Tarik Sheppard said: "We do not believe this was targeting any particular person or any particular group."

State of play: 18 jurors, including six alternates, were seated on Friday in one of the most high-profile cases in U.S. history.

A bomb squad did not find any devices in the area in a search after the incident.

  • Four officers had minor injuries from their exposure to the fire and were all stable on Friday afternoon.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with NYPD details of Azzarello's death.

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