Max Azzarello: Conspiracy Theorist Who Set Himself on Fire Outside Trump Trial Threw Pamphlets in Air and Protested Online Hours Before Horror Incident

A week before the incident, Azzarello traveled to New York City, announcing on his Instagram that he would be staying at Washington Square Park.

The man who set himself on fire outside the Manhattan trial involving former President Donald Trump has been identified as Maxwell Crosby Azzarello, a native of Florida. Azzarello, 37, is currently in critical condition following the incident on Friday where he set himself on fire, as bystanders and CNN cameras watched in horror.

Azzarello described himself as a self-proclaimed "investigative researcher" in a blog post published, hours before he self-immolated. Azzarello had become increasingly erratic over the past year and shared conspiracy theories about the "elites" in a detailed manifesto. Before setting himself on fire, Azzarello dropped flyers containing a link to his Substack account, where he explained his actions.

Chilling Final Words

Max Azzarello
Max Azzarello Instagram

The blog, titled "I have set myself on fire outside the Trump Trial," featured Azzarello's claim that his "extreme act of protest" aimed to spotlight what he referred to as a "totalitarian con." Azzarello wrote the government was "about to hit us with an apocalyptic fascist world coup."

Azzarello added: "To my friends and family, witnesses and first responders, I deeply apologize for inflicting this pain upon you. But I assure you it is a drop in the bucket compared to what our government intends to inflict."

Trump fire
Max Azzarello was rushed to the hospital as he appeared to be alive X

A week before the incident, Azzarello traveled to New York City, announcing on his Instagram that he would be staying at Washington Square Park.

On his LinkedIn profile, where he is seen in a photo with Bill Clinton, Azzarello wrote, "We've got a secret fascism problem." His profile indicates that he has been self-employed since March 2023.

Azzarello earned an undergraduate diploma in anthropology and public policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009. He then pursued a Master's degree in city and regional planning at Rutgers University in New Jersey, graduating in 2012.

Azzarello was photographed outside the Lower Manhattan courthouse at 100 Centre St., just the day before the incident, holding a sign declaring "Trump is with Biden and they're about to fascist coup us."

Max Azzarello
Max Azzarello had shared strange conspiracy theories before setting himself on fire X

He shouted at a group of reporters, "Biggest scoop of your life or your money back!" explaining to The New York Times that he moved from Washington Square Park to the courthouse as he anticipated more people being present due to the cold weather.

"Trump's in on it," Azzarello told the Times on Thursday, indicating his beliefs were shaped by his investigation into Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist and prominent political donor.

"It's a secret kleptocracy, and it can only lead to an apocalyptic fascist coup."

Final Post Before Self-Immolation

An hour before he self-immolated, Azzarello posted a text in his Instagram story simply repeating the words "I love you." Azzarello had been arrested twice last year for disturbing the peace in Florida.

Max Azzarello
Max Azzarello X

Shocking video footage captured Azzarello twitching on the ground while engulfed in flames before another man rushed over with a fire extinguisher.

Azzarello's LinkedIn profile picture shows him posing with Bill Clinton, with whom he filed a lawsuit last year along with 100 other influential defendants in a case steeped in conspiracy theories. However, the case was dismissed last October due to Azzarello's failure to follow up with required court filings.

Among the defendants named in the 2023 suit filed in Manhattan federal court were Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, the country of Saudi Arabia, and the late Texas billionaire and 1992 Independent presidential candidate Ross Perot.

Azzarello filed the case without a lawyer, alleging "an elaborate network of Ponzi schemes" dating back to the 1990s and continuing through 2023.

Max Azzarello
Max Azzarello had thrown pamphlets in the air moments before setting himself on fire X

At an NYPD press conference held shortly after Azzarello was taken to the hospital, Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny referred to the incident as "propaganda-based."

"We're looking through his social media and what he did online prior and it does appear he posted something online prior to this incident," Kenny said.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry added, "This wasn't targeting any particular person. Right now, we're labeling it as a conspiracy theorist. The investigation will continue."