What’s Known About the Man Who Set Himself on Fire Outside Trump Trial

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
April 19, 2024US News
What’s Known About the Man Who Set Himself on Fire Outside Trump Trial
Investigators inspect the site at the park across from Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City after a man set himself on fire, in New York City, on April 19, 2024. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

Police have identified the man who set himself on fire in a park outside the Manhattan courthouse where former President Donald Trump’s business record falsification trial was taking place, with officials reviewing whether to restrict access to Collect Pond Park following the incident.

Max Azzarello of St. Augustine, Florida, was identified by officials with the New York Police Department (NYPD) at an April 19 press conference as the man who entered the park, tossed what police said were some “conspiracy theory-type” pamphlets in the air, doused himself in a flammable liquid, and set himself ablaze.

Mr. Azzarello survived the inferno, which raged for about a minute before police arrived on the scene and put it out, NYPD said. Emergency responders rushed him to the hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

Police said a preliminary review of the pamphlets indicated that they were related to “Ponzi schemes, and the fact that some of our local educational institutions are fronts for the mob,” with NYPD officials adding that they don’t believe he was targeting any particular person or group with his shocking act.

“We just right now label his as sort of a conspiracy theorist, and we’re going from there, but the investigation will continue,” one of NYPD officials said.

Mr. Azzarello was photographed by a Reuters reporter one day earlier holding up a sign that says, “Trump is with Biden and they’re about to fascist coup us.” Photos from the scene shared on social media indicate he brought the sign with him on Friday to the scene of his self-immolation.

“We’re looking through his social media and what he did online prior and it appears that he did post something in regards to this event prior to the incident,” an NYPD official said at the presser.

The Epoch Times has uncovered what appears to be an online manifesto written by Mr. Azzarello entitled, “I have set myself on fire outside the Trump Trial,” which was the last of a series of posts apparently written by the self-identified “investigative researcher.” In the manifesto, he claimed to have stumbled upon an “urgent and important discovery” that he wanted to draw attention to in what he described as “an act of revolution.”

As more information comes to light about Mr. Azzarello and what motivated his actions, a picture emerges of an apparently psychologically distressed individual espousing far-left anarchistic ideas.

“Start a [expletive] revolution, start a [expletive] revolution, start a [expletive] revolution, you’ve got nothing to lose,” Mr. Azzarello sings in a video posted on social media, to the tune of Louis Armstrong’s “When The Saints Go Marching In.”

An apparent scraping of Mr. Azzarello’s Reddit history indicates he identified as an “Anarcho-Communist” and wrote that he’s a “huge proponent of left unity” and believed that “only the left has the power to build a united movement to enact meaningful change.”

Some of his writings reportedly included a rant against President Trump.

The Epoch Times has been unable to independently verify whether the posts were written by Mr. Azzarello, who allegedly drove a vehicle emblazoned with a phrase that repeatedly shows up in his writings—”fascist coup”—and featured the name of his Substack blog, “Ponzi Papers.”

‘Ponzi Papers’

Mr. Azzarello’s shocking self-immolation was captured on video, which showed him kneeling on the ground and holding his head with his hands as the flames engulfed him.

“My name is Max Azzarello, and I am an investigative researcher who has set himself on fire outside of the Trump trial in Manhattan,” he wrote in his manifesto.

He called his self-immolation an “extreme act of protest” meant to draw attention to an “urgent and important discovery.”

“We are victims of a totalitarian con, and our own government (along with many of their allies) is about to hit us with an apocalyptic fascist world coup,” he wrote.

“These claims sound like fantastical conspiracy theory, but they are not. They are proof of conspiracy. If you investigate this mountain of research, you will prove them too,” he claimed.

In a series of 27 posts that comprise his “Ponzi Papers,” Mr. Azzarello lays out a meandering, digressive, and often incoherent case for why he believes that a shadowy group of “international criminal billionaires” seeking money, power, and control are secretly plotting to carry out a “fascist coup” by way of the “largest criminal enterprise in history,” namely an elaborate Ponzi scheme involving various Big Tech-related platforms, projects, and people.

Stitching together disparate events and names into a labyrinthine and often logic-defying mosaic—from the Dot Com Bubble to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank to the death of Jeffrey Epstein—Mr. Azzarello eventually arrives at what he calls “The True History of The World (Haunted Carnival Edition),” a pamphlet that claims cryptocurrency is a multi-trillion dollar Ponzi scheme (“an economic doomsday device”) that will “shatter the world economy” when it collapses.

In the pamphlet—which apparently was the same one he tossed into the air before setting himself on fire—Mr. Azzarello elucidates his overarching aim, which is to abolish the government and replace it with a nebulous-sounding one that “serves all.”

Police confirmed at the press conference that, before he set himself on fire, Mr. Azzarello pulled out some pamphlets that an NYPD official described as propaganda-based, “almost like a conspiracy theory type pamphlet.”

“Some information in regards to Ponzi schemes, and the fact that some of our local educational institutions are fronts for the mob,” one of the investigators said at the presser.

“So a little bit of a conspiracy theory going on here,” the official added.

Mr. Azzarello’s family has been notified, police said, adding that the incident remains under investigation.

From The Epoch Times

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