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Horrifying scenes unfolded outside Donald Trump‘s hush money trial on Friday after a man set himself on fire in an act of extreme political protest.

Maxwell Azzarello, 37, doused himself in an alcohol substance before taking a lighter to his clothes near Manhattan criminal court.

He was seen kneeling with his hands behind his head engulfed in flames as the world’s media and horrified onlookers watched.

NYPD officers rushed to extinguish the flames.  He was taken away in a gurney and remains in the hospital in critical condition.

He was seen throwing pamphlets in the air moments before he set himself ablaze. It remains unclear if the protest was in support of or against the former president, who is currently on trial for hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels.

Horror as ‘researcher’, 37,  sets himself on fire outside Trump trial in horrific ‘political protest’ after ranting about ‘a revolution’ online

Maxwell Azzarello set himself on fire in an act of extreme political protest outside Donald Trump ‘s hush money trial on Friday

Azzarello doused himself in an alcohol substance before taking a lighter to his clothes near Manhattan criminal court

 Azzarello doused himself in an alcohol substance before taking a lighter to his clothes near Manhattan criminal court

Fliers spotted at the scene of the self-immolation shortly after it occurred. It has not been confirmed if they belong to the victim

Fliers spotted at the scene of the self-immolation shortly after it occurred. It has not been confirmed if they belong to the victim

The pamphlets found at the scene link to a Substack written by 'investigative researcher' Max Azzarello

The pamphlets found at the scene link to a Substack written by ‘investigative researcher’ Max Azzarello

A post published moments before the horrifying incident, reads: 'I have set myself on fire outside the Trump Trial.'

A post published moments before the horrifying incident, reads: ‘I have set myself on fire outside the Trump Trial.’ 

Azzarello was pictured a day earlier outside the courthouse brandishing a conspiracy sign

Azzarello was pictured a day earlier outside the courthouse brandishing a conspiracy sign

The disturbing scenes played out in front of the world's media as well as horrified onlookers

The disturbing scenes played out in front of the world’s media as well as horrified onlookers

Witnesses described the incident as a 'political protest' although it was not clear what side he was on

Witnesses described the incident as a ‘political protest’ although it was not clear what side he was on

The tragedy unfolded while former president Trump (pictured on Friday morning) was inside the courthouse

The tragedy unfolded while former president Trump (pictured on Friday morning) was inside the courthouse 

A Substack penned by Azzarello states he is an ‘investigative researcher’. A post published moments before the horrifying incident, reads: ‘I have set myself on fire outside the Trump Trial.’ 

The Substack is a rambling anti-establishment diatribe which claims the world is the victim of a ‘totalitarian con’. He also warns of a ‘an apocalyptic fascist world coup’.

On the Florida-native’s LinkedIn profile, where he seemingly appears in a photo with Bill Clinton, Azzarello wrote: ‘We’ve got a secret fascism problem.’

His profile claims he has been self-employed since March of 2023. He was arrested twice last year for disturbing the peace in Florida.

‘I’ve never seen something like that in my life,’ eyewitness Charles Udoaka told DailyMail.com.

‘I was crossing the park and saw a fire and then it just ignited. People were screaming and trying to use a fire extinguisher to put the fire out.’

‘It was completely out of the blue,’ Kennedy Mack, who was visiting from South Carolina said.

‘He started throwing brochures around and then poured gasoline on himself, two or three gallons.

‘He took out a match or lighter and set himself completely on fire. He kneeled down as if he was praising somebody. He didn’t say anything.

Azzarrello describes himself as an 'investigative reporter' and said the stunt was to alert the world to a 'totalitarian con'

After a few minutes, dozens of police officers rushed over and tried to smother the flames

Devastated eyewitnesses described hearing screams as the man went up in flames

Devastated eyewitnesses described hearing screams as the man went up in flames

Witnesses described how the man began throwing political flyers prior to dousing himself. It is unclear if these pamphlets pictured belonged to him

Witnesses described how the man began throwing political flyers prior to dousing himself. It is unclear if these pamphlets pictured belonged to him

CNN 's Laura Coates was live on air narrating the chaos as it unfolded and described seeing a 'totally charred' person

CNN ‘s Laura Coates was live on air narrating the chaos as it unfolded and described seeing a ‘totally charred’ person

‘It was awful why would anyone do that to themselves. I wish we never came this way now.’ 

CNN‘s Laura Coates was live on air narrating the chaos as it unfolded.

‘I see a totally charred human being,’ Coates said.

Fred Gates from Astoria, was in Collect Pond Park a short distance away at the time.

‘I saw him take a backpack off pull out two cans of gasoline and proceed to take one can and pour it over himself on both sides. I was yelling for police to come in,’ he said.

‘People started to run away, I included. I got half way from the park and that’s when he went. He threw a bunch of fliers in the air.

‘He had nothing on his t-shirt. He seemed very calm, quiet and didn’t say anything. I was very close to him It became apparent it may be some a dangerous situation and we all ran away from him.

‘I first thought it was fake, he was doing some kind of protest where he would use fake gasoline. I didn’t think it was real.

‘It seemed like he was burning for 5 minutes. There was no help. Everybody was screaming and watching this.’

As of 2.20pm police described the individual as in a 'critical' condition

As of 2.20pm police described the individual as in a ‘critical’ condition

New York Police officers inspect the scene where a man lit himself on fire in a park outside Manhattan criminal court

New York Police officers inspect the scene where a man lit himself on fire in a park outside Manhattan criminal court

White fire extinguisher residue marks the spot where the incident took place in Collect Pond Park

White fire extinguisher residue marks the spot where the incident took place in Collect Pond Park

Azzarello, a Florida native, states there is a 'secret fascism problem' on his Linkedin which indicates he has been self employed since March 2023

Azzarello, a Florida native, states there is a ‘secret fascism problem’ on his Linkedin which indicates he has been self employed since March 2023

At 3pm, police described Azzarello as in a ‘critical condition’ and said they are still working to understand the full circumstances. 

He had arrived in the city earlier in the week, an official confirmed, stating he was not known to the police prior to the incident. His next of kin have been informed.

An hour before he self immolated, Azarello posted a text in his Instagram story that just repeated the words ‘I love you.’

Azzarello travelled to New York City a week ago, saying on his Instagram he would be staying at Washington Square Park.

Last year he filed a lawsuit against the Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, Binance, Peter Thiel, Mark Cuban, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg, among a dozen other entities for fraud. 

The terrifying incident unfolded outside the court room where jury selection was taking place.

It comes just two months after Air Force engineer Aaron Bushnell died by setting himself on fire.

Bushnell, 25, self-immolated in protest against the war in Gaza on February 25.

An hour before he self immolated, Azzarello posted a text in his Instagram story that just repeated the words 'I love you.'

An hour before he self immolated, Azzarello posted a text in his Instagram story that just repeated the words ‘I love you.’

Officials confirmed Azzarrello had travelled to New York earlier in the week and that they have now informed his next of kin

Azzarello was arrested twice last year in Florida

Both arrests were for breach of the peace

Azzarello was arrested twice last year in Florida for breach of the peace

Trump was outside of the courtroom, but still inside the court house when Azzarello lit himself on fire.

The full jury of seven men and five women had already been selected for his hush money trial and alternates were being sought.

Members include an investment banker and a speech therapist who admits he ‘doesn’t like’ his policies. 

The final two alternate jurors were seated Friday afternoon. According to reporters in the courtroom, Trump appeared to fall asleep again as the jury selection droned on.

Judge Juan M. Merchan, seemingly unaware of what was unfolding outside, told newly selected jurors that opening statements are set for Monday at 9.30am. 

At the White House, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about Azzarello during the daily briefing.

‘It’s very sad news,’ Jean-Pierre replied, stating she learned about the ‘developing situation’ from live news coverage.

Azarello first walked into the park around 1:30 p.m., took out pamphlets espousing conspiracy theories and spread them around the park before he doused himself in an accelerant and set himself on fire, officials said.

Authorities said they were also reviewing the security protocols outside the courthouse.

‘We are very concerned. Of course we are going to review our security protocols,’ Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said.



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