Man sets himself on fire during Trump trial jury selection at NYC courthouse

A man set himself on fire outside of Donald Trump's hush money jury selection at an NYC courthouse on Friday. Officials later identified the man as Maxwell Azzarello and said he traveled to the city from Florida, likely to promote far-reaching conspiracy theories, police said.

Video from FOX 5 NY shows the man engulfed in flames outside of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse around 1:30 p.m. The NYPD held a news conference: Watch in the media player above.

"Police! Police! There's a guy lighting himself on fire," a person is heard yelling in video taken at the scene.


FILE - Mug shot of Maxwell Azzarello from Florida. Maxwell was booked in August 2023.  (St. Johns County Sheriff's Office)

A person could be clearly seen lying on the ground on fire. People then rushed over with a fire extinguisher and worked to bat the flames away. The person was then taken away on a stretcher, and police confirmed that the man is in critical condition at a nearby hospital.


Fire extinguishers (R) are left at the park across from Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City after a man reportedly set himself on fire during the trial of US President Donald Trump, in New York City on April 19, 2024. (ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

People who witnessed the incident were visibly distressed.

Witness William Schoeffler said he was checking out the park where Trump supporters were talking when he saw a man cover himself in gas.


Fire extinguishers and a backpack are left at the park across from Manhattan Criminal Court after a man reportedly set himself on fire during the trial of US President Donald Trump, in New York City on April 19, 2024.  (ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

"This guy just starts dousing himself with gas," he told FOX 5 NY. "He covered himself in enough gas that he just lit himself on fire."

Schoeffler said the man who lit himself on fire was previously spotted outside of the courthouse this week and was sounding off conspiracy theories.


Still image taken from video outside of the courthouse where former President Donald Trump's hush money trial was taking place.  (FOX 5 New York)

"I've never seen anything like it," Schoeffler said. "At that point, there's really nothing anyone can do, other than just hope that somebody has a fire extinguisher."

Authorities said they were 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.


(FOX 5 NY photo)

A full jury of 12 people and six alternates has been seated in Trump’s hush money case, drawing the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president a step closer to opening statements.

Judge Juan M. Merchan, seemingly unaware of what was unfolding outside the courthouse, told newly selected jurors that opening statements are set for Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Trump is accused of falsifying business records to suppress stories about his sex life emerging in the final days of the 2016 election. He has denied any wrongdoing.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.