Max Azzarello’s Path to Setting Himself on Fire Outside Trump Trial Began in Florida

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Pocket
WhatsApp
Max Azzarello’s Path to Setting Himself on Fire Outside Trump Trial Began in Florida

You have a preview view of this article while we are checking your access. When we have confirmed access, the full article content will load.

Friends of Max Azzarello, who set himself on fire outside Donald J. Trump’s trial, said he was a caring person whose paranoia had led him down a dark path.

Leaflets are scattered on the ground or fluttering in the air on a plaza that it partially closed off with metal barriers and yellow caution tape.
Max Azzarello’s actions on Friday at a Lower Manhattan park did not appear to be directed at any particular political party.Credit…Maansi Srivastava/The New York Times

The journey that ended with a man setting himself on fire on Friday outside the Manhattan courthouse where Donald J. Trump was being tried seemed to have begun in Florida, with a series of increasingly bizarre outbursts.

Standing in the afternoon chill, the man, Max Azzarello, 37, of St. Augustine, Fla., threw pamphlets into the air before dousing himself with an accelerant and setting his body ablaze. The police hurried to extinguish the flames, and he was taken to a hospital burn unit, gravely injured. He died on Friday night.

The fire just a block or two from the courthouse appeared calculated to draw widespread attention, horrifying bystanders and temporarily overshadowing the momentous trial of a former president.

But a closer look at the path the man had traveled to this moment of self-destruction revealed a recent spiral into volatility, one marked by a worldview that had become increasingly confusing and disjointed — and appeared to be unattached to any political party. His social media postings and arrest records suggest the immolation stemmed instead from a place of conspiracy theories and paranoia.

Until last summer, Mr. Azzarello seemed to have lived a relatively quiet life. After high school, where he was a member of a bowling team, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009, with degrees in anthropology and public policy.

As a student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., where he received a master’s degree in city and regional planning in 2012, 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, said a former classmate, Katie Brennan.


Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.


Thank you for your patience while we verify access.

Already a subscriber? Log in.

Want all of The Times? Subscribe.

Read More

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Pocket
WhatsApp

Never miss any important news. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

Get notified about new articles