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Tags: protester | cryptocurrency | conspiracy | theories | trial | new york city | mental illness

Protester Who Set Himself on Fire Outside Trump Trial Dead

Saturday, 20 April 2024 09:52 AM EDT

A man has died after setting himself on fire Friday outside the New York courthouse where Donald Trump's historic trial was taking place as jury selection wrapped up, but officials said he did not appear to have been targeting Trump.

The man burned for several minutes in full view of television cameras that were set up outside the courthouse, where the first-ever criminal trial of a former president is being held.

An NYPD spokesperson said the man was declared dead overnight at a hospital. Officials had previously said he was in critical condition.

Witnesses said the man, who was in his 30s, pulled pamphlets from a backpack and threw them in the air before he doused himself with a liquid and set himself on fire. One of those pamphlets included references to "evil billionaires" but portions that were visible to a Reuters witness did not mention Trump.

The NYPD said the man, who they identified as Max Azzarello of St. Augustine, Florida, did not appear to be targeting Trump or others involved in the trial.

"Right now we are labeling him as sort of a conspiracy theorist, and we are going from there," Tarik Sheppard, a deputy police commissioner, said at a news conference.

In an online manifesto, a man using that name said he set himself on fire and apologized to friends, witnesses, and first responders. The post warns of "an apocalyptic fascist coup" and criticizes cryptocurrency and U.S. politicians, but does not single out Trump in particular.

A smell of smoke lingered in the plaza after the incident, according to a Reuters witness, and a police officer sprayed a fire extinguisher on the ground. A smoldering backpack and a gas can were visible.

The man was in Collect Pond Park around 1:30 p.m. Friday when he took out pamphlets espousing conspiracy theories, tossed them around, then doused himself in an accelerant and set himself on fire, officials and witnesses said.

A large number of police officers were nearby when it happened. Some officers and bystanders rushed to the aid of the man, who was hospitalized in critical condition at the time.

The man, who police said recently traveled from Florida to New York, had not breached any security checkpoints to access the park.

The park outside the courthouse has been a gathering spot for protesters, journalists, and gawkers throughout Trump’s trial, which began with jury selection Monday.

Through Friday, the streets and sidewalks in the area around the courthouse were generally wide open and crowds have been small and largely orderly.

Authorities said they were also reviewing the security protocols, including whether to restrict access to the park. The side street where Trump enters and leaves the building is off limits.

"We may have to shut this area down," New York City Police Department Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said at a news conference outside the courthouse Friday, adding that officials would discuss the security plan soon.

The downtown Manhattan courthouse, heavily guarded by police, drew a throng of protesters and onlookers Monday, the trial's first day, though crowds have since dwindled.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


US
A man has died after setting himself on fire Friday outside the New York courthouse where Donald Trump's historic trial was taking place as jury selection wrapped up, but officials said he did not appear to have been targeting Trump.
protester, cryptocurrency, conspiracy, theories, trial, new york city, mental illness
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2024-52-20
Saturday, 20 April 2024 09:52 AM
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