Lower Manhattan was gripped by chaos Friday afternoon as a 37-year-old man, identified as Maxwell Azzarello, set himself on fire outside New York’s Manhattan Supreme Court.

The incident unfolded during the jury selection process for the criminal trial of former President Donald Trump.

Eyewitnesses described a surreal scene as Azzarello entered Collect Pond Park just before 2 p.m. and began tossing pamphlets into the air. Moments later, he doused himself with a flammable liquid and ignited the flames, sending billows of smoke into the air.

Witnesses rushed to Azzarello’s aid, using jackets and fire extinguishers in a desperate attempt to quell the inferno.

Maxwell Azzarello: Blazing conspiracy theorist

CNN’s Laura Coates, reporting live from the scene, described the harrowing sight of bystanders battling the blaze to save Azzarello’s life. Fox News footage captured the intensity of the flames as they engulfed the park benches.

Emergency responders swiftly transported Azzarello to Cornell Medical Center’s burn unit, where medical teams battled to stabilize his condition. Police described his state as “very critical.”

Azzarello’s sudden and shocking actions have left authorities puzzled. Hailing from St. Augustine, Florida, his family was unaware of his presence in New York City, adding another layer of mystery to the unfolding drama.

In the aftermath of the incident, investigators delved into Azzarello’s digital footprint, seeking clues that could shed light on his motivations.

Tarik Sheppard, Deputy Commissioner of Public Information for the NYPD, dispelled notions of a targeted attack, instead characterizing the incident as the act of a “conspiracy theorist.”

The pamphlets strewn about the scene referenced figures such as former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Al Gore, suggesting a broader narrative at play.

The shocking events of Friday afternoon are a stark reminder of the tensions surrounding the trial and the need for heightened vigilance in the days ahead.

Cover Photo: Depositphotos

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