CNN Captures Man Setting Himself on Fire at Trump Trial Protest in NYC: ‘Engulfed in Total Flame’ | Video

Laura Coates describes the chaotic scene of “burning flesh” in real time Friday, at first mistaking the emergency for an active shooter

CNN on fire emergency Trump trial
Laura Coates reports for CNN (Credit: X)

A man set himself on fire outside the courthouse where the fourth day of Donald Trump’s criminal trial is being held in lower Manhattan, a horrific scene captured by CNN and described in real time by anchor Laura Coates.

The emergency incident, first mistaken to be an active shooter, was caught live at 1:36 p.m. Eastern. Shortly after, police officers rushed to the scene and extinguished the fire. The man, Maxwell Azzarello, 37, from St. Augustine, Florida, appeared to still be alive according to witnesses and was taken away in an ambulance.

Watch a clip from CNN’s live coverage below.

“We have a man who has set fire to himself, a man has emblazoned himself outside of the courthouse just now,” Coates said in the CNN clip after correcting herself off of an “active shooter” report.

“Our cameras are turning, right now, a man has now lit himself on fire outside of the courthouse in Manhattan where we are waiting as history’s being made. A full jury panel has gone. We are watching a man who is fully emblazoned in the front of the courthouse today, we are watching multiple fires breaking out around his body and person.”

“We have seen an arm that has been visible that has been engulfed in total flames. There is chaos that is happening. People are wondering right now if people are in danger. I’m looking across the courtyard — there is a man racing toward his aid. There are coats coming off to try and put out the fire. We have members of security details, NYPD is rushing to the scene,” Coates continued.

“They are trying to combat — officers are on the scene. A fire extinguisher is right now being present being put on this man to try and put out. People are climbing over barricades to try to separate the public to put out the flame on this man. He has lit himself on fire in front of the courthouse right now.”

The journalist’s report reached harrowing detail as she described the smell in the air of “burning flesh” and an apparent fire accelerant.

The NYPD later said Azzarello wandered into the park, threw out multiple pamphlets and lit himself on fire before falling on an NYPD barricade. He is currently in a Cornell University burn unit in critical condition.

Azzarello arrived in the New York City earlier in the week, said Joe Kenny, the NYPD’s chief of detectives. Kenny called the incident “propaganda”-based.

Just seconds before setting himself on fire, Azzarello had reached into a bag and grabbed a stack of pamphlets that he threw into the air — including some that read, “I have set myself on fire outside the Trump Trial,” and, oddly, “The True History of the World (Haunted Carnival Edition).”

In a rambling, incoherent, 2,648-word manifesto posted online before the incident, Azzarello — who identified himself as an investigative researcher — said he had self-immolated as an “extreme act of protest” over a “totalitarian con” and impending “apocalyptic fascist world coup.”

The horrific scene took place as a jury was finally set for Trump’s trial on Friday. Trump is charged with falsifying business records to cover up payments intended to keep a sex scandal quiet during the 2016 election campaign.

Opening statements, where prosecutors and defense lawyers for both the prosecution and the defense will introduce their cases as early as Monday.

The case stems from a $130,000 hush money payment made during the 2016 presidential campaign to adult film star Stormy Daniels. The payment came from Trump’s former fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, who has said he was directed by the former president to do so.


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