Attempted self-immolation in court: US police speak of “conspiracy theorists”

After the attempted self-immolation in a New York court, more details about the case have become known. Police described the man who set himself on fire Friday outside the Manhattan courthouse where the historic criminal trial of former President Donald Trump is taking place as “some kind of conspiracy theorist.”

Investigators identified him as Maxwell Azzarello. Police said he tried to distribute leaflets in the park opposite the court that appeared to be “based on propaganda.” Azzarello wrote about pyramid schemes and complained that some educational institutions were “fronts for the mafia.” “His condition is not good, but at the moment he is still alive,” said chief investigator Joseph Kenny.

Azzarello set himself on fire on Friday afternoon. Eyewitness videos showed him engulfed in flames and falling to the ground. Police officers rushed to put out the fire. An AFP correspondent saw burned clothing in the park and reported a strong smell of burning chemicals.

A witness told AFP he saw the man throwing leaflets into the air before dousing himself with liquid and setting himself on fire.

The incident occurred shortly after the announcement that the jury for the criminal trial against Trump was complete, as six replacements had been selected in addition to the twelve jurors. The first criminal trial in history against a former US president concerns a hush money payment to the former porn actress Stormy Daniels, which Trump is said to have covered up by falsifying business documents.