St. Augustine man dies after setting himself on fire outside Trump trial

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — UPDATE 5:28 a.m.- The Associated Press reported that Maxwell Azzarello has died. The New York City Police Department confirmed the information with the news outlet.

New York City police say a St. Augustine man set himself on fire outside a courthouse where former President Donald Trump was on trial and he is now in critical condition.


Police say 37-year-old Maxwell Azzarello from St. Augustine was throwing pamphlets with conspiracy theory propaganda in the air before the incident.

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Action News Jax learned Azzarello lived in an apartment building on St. George Street for about three years but moved out within the last two months.

“He was a very friendly neighbor, never too loud or anything like that, so it’s pretty surprising,” a neighbor who didn’t want to be identified said.

The property manager of the apartment building told Action News Jax he lived there in good standing, never had any issues with him, and passed background checks.

ORIGINAL STORY: Man who set self on fire outside Trump trial is from St. Augustine, authorities confirm

Neighbors who lived on the same floor as him said he would park his car at the end of the driveway and it always had political signs and writings on it.

“On the back of his SUV there was always some sort of sharpie message on the back, he would occasionally change that to a lot of range of things, from crypto, to Biden, to Hillary Clinton and Trump,” the neighbor said. “It was really kind of not something you’d truly understand was connected but he had a very connected vision in his head of what that was.”

Action News Jax found what’s believed to be his website, called the Ponzi Papers. A post from early Friday documented what he did in New York, it said “this extreme act of protest is to draw attention to an urgent and important discovery:” where he outlines political conspiracy theories.

It goes on to say: “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.”

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The website is something the floormate said was also on his car with other claims.

“I believe it was something along the lines of Trump and Hillary are together and they’re going to start a coup of some sort,” the neighbor said.

Action News Jax also found his Instagram page, where he’s posted several videos in the last couple of months.

Azzarello was arrested at least three times in St. Augustine, twice at the Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection. One time, a police report said he threw a glass of wine at an autographed Bill Clinton frame, staining it.

The St. Augustine Police Department told Action News Jax he had a history of mental health issues but didn’t elaborate further. He was also recently on probation for criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, one of the rules was he had to follow the Marchman act rules, which is for drug abuse treatment.

“I’m sad, again, he was a very sweet person,” the neighbor said. “But, it was obvious something was going on.”

The property manager said Action News Jax around 6-to-12 months ago, Azzarello started talking more about political conspiracy theory claims.

The NYPD said Azzarello is in critical condition.

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