In the News: Man dies after an act of self-immolation at Collect Pond Park

You can read this story in just about any outlet; I am gleaning most of my details from New York magazine: “Max Azzarello, 37, was pronounced dead at a city hospital early Saturday, according to police. The act of self-immolation was not directly related to the trial: He wrote in paranoid manifesto that he took his own life to bring attention to a set of conspiratorial beliefs.”

He lit himself on fire at Collect Pond Park yesterday, on Leonard and Lafayette, across the street from the New York County Criminal Court, the scene of the (latest) Trump trial. He doused himself with what police now say was an accelerant from a cannister, held a lighter up to his shirt, which at this point was soaked, and lit himself on fire at about 1:30 yesterday afternoon.

New York has a video, which I do not recommend watching. You cannot unsee it. The park was largely empty — much quieter than at Trump’s arraignment there a year ago. But there were still police barricades circling most of the gardens and planting beds, as well as barricades along the Centre Street sidewalk. A bystander started videotaping Azzarello, all the while screaming for police that a man was about to set himself on fire. Just then Azzarello bursts into flames, takes several steps forward, falls to his knees and then to his back — all within about 20 seconds — as his limbs convulse. Bystanders are crying, screaming, comforting each other; a man comes running with an overcoat and police follow, but it is a man in a suit that reaches Azzarello first with the fire extinguisher. He continues to burn and even sits up, when police come with the larger fire extinguisher and put out all the flames.

The man who tapes the whole event is shaking by the end, yelling “fuck” every couple seconds while making way for police. The entire event took about 90 seconds.

From The Times, which happened to photograph and interview him the day before: “Onlookers screamed and started to run, and soon, bright orange flames engulfed the man. He threw leaflets espousing anti-government conspiracy theories into the air before setting himself on fire. People rushed and tried to put out the flames, but the intensity of the heat could be felt from some distance.”

An ambulance eventually took him to the burn center at New York–Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The park was empty this morning, but some charred paper lay on the ground in what I am guessing is the dust left over from a fire extinguisher.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, you can call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or go to for a list of additional resources.


1 Comment

  1. I was there and I also have on video. After they sprayed him w/ the fire extinguisher he was still on fire from the waste down. It appears that they let another 20 sec. go by before they hit him again w/ the extinguisher. Not sure why they did not put out the fire in total to begin w/ since they had a large full fire extinguisher.