Troubling details emerge about man who passed away after self-immolating in front of Trump trial

The man who self-immolated near the Manhattan courthouse where former President Donald J. Trump’s trial was being held appears to have been a troubled individual.

As if the Stormy Daniels “hush money” case wasn’t enough of a circus already, at around 1:30 p.m. on Friday, the man reportedly tossed pamphlets into the air before producing an accelerant from his backpack and lighting himself on fire in front of bystanders and media who watched in horror.

The obviously disturbed man was identified as 37-year-old Maxwell Azzarello of St. Augustine, Florida, a graduate of Rutgers University where he studied city and regional planning, receiving a master’s degree in 2012, according to his friends.

Before lighting himself on fire, the man was seen holding a sign reading, “Trump is with Biden and they’re about to fascist coup us.”

“Trump’s in on it,” he had said on Thursday, according to The New York Times. “It’s a secret kleptocracy, and it can only lead to an apocalyptic fascist coup.”

Azzarello was rushed to the hospital where he would later die of injuries from his human torch act.

“This extreme act of protest is 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 in what has been described as a manifesto on his Substack page.

In his final video posted to social media, Azzarello is seen sitting in a vehicle singing “start a f**king revolution” to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Those who knew him say that there was little indication that his life would end in a final act of fiery defiance in Gotham’s Collect Pond Park, describing an inquisitive, relatively normal person whose life seems to have begun to unravel after the death of his mother two years ago.

According to the New York Times, in college “he was known for leaving supportive Post-it notes for classmates in the hallways and for his karaoke performances of Frank Sinatra and Disney tunes.”

“He was super curious about social justice and the way things ‘could’ be,” said Katie Brennan, a former classmate of Azzarello. “He was creative and adventurous.”

“An extremely nice person,” Larry Altman, the property manager at Azzarello’s apartment building told the Times. “He had political views that I would not consider mainstream. He called our government and the world government a Ponzi scheme.”

“If you met Max, he’d shake your hand, and you’d have a nice conversation,” Altman said. “He’d treat you with respect.”

Azzarello’s friends began to notice a change around the time that his beloved mother Elizabeth Azzarello died of pulmonary disease in April 2022.

“That was around the time when he became more outspoken,” said Steven Waldman, an old high school friend. “They were close, and they had a good relationship. He was heartbroken.”

“Like frogs in water coming to a boil, the public didn’t notice the rotten truth behind the illusion of freedom,” he would later write on Facebook as his behavior became increasingly erratic after his mother’s passing.

“To my friends and family, witnesses and first responders, I deeply apologize for inflicting this pain upon you,” Azzarello wrote on Substack.

Chris Donaldson

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