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St. Augustine Resident Sets Self Ablaze Outside Trump Trial

UPDATE: Authorities in New York have confirmed that Azzarello succumbed to his wounds.

Max Azzarello, a St. Augustine resident and self-described research investigator, was hospitalized Friday after setting his own body on fire outside of a New York City courthouse where former President Donald Trump is currently on trial. His identity, reported by several major media outlets, has revealed ties to a conspiracy-heavy Substack blog in which he detailed the rationale for his violent demonstration.


“My name is Max Azzarello,” he begins in a post put up the same day as his self-burning. “I am an investigative researcher who has set himself on fire outside of the Trump trial in Manhattan. This extreme act of protest is to draw attention to an urgent and important discovery: we are victims of a totalitarian con, and our own government (along with many of their allies) is about to hit up with an apocalyptic fascist world coup“.

He goes on to detail an elaborate conspiracy theory alleging that silicon valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel was behind a scheme to incite a global economic catastrophe, using cryptocurrency and a network of elite business leaders to make it happen. Azzarello’s theory is discussed in great detail on his blog, and makes several incendiary claims such as the government engineering the COVID-19 pandemic, ties between the scheme and the late Jeffrey Epstein, and direct involvement by George Bush in 9/11.

Minutes before igniting his body in flames outside Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan, Azzarello posted a parting message to his Instagram account: “I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you.” It’s not immediately clear to whom the message was directed.

Not much within Azzarello’s manifestos is centered around Trump directly, though Trump and many of his supporters have alleged that the trial is judicial overreach to the point of persecution. He’s currently being accused of falsifying business records to cover up payments to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election in order to prevent her from revealing an alleged affair. He’s been hit with 34 charges in relation to this case, largely removing him from the campaign trail as he becomes the GOP’s presumptive 2024 nominee. It appears Azzarello may have used the trial as a backdrop to amplify a message which isn’t exclusively focused on Trump or his trial.

“To my friends and family, witnesses and first responders, I deeply apologize for inflicting this pain upon you” Azzarello continued. “But I assure you it is a drop in the bucket compared to what our government intends to inflict. Because these words are true, this is an act of revolution.” Eyewitness reports stated that he appeared to still be alive when he was taken away by first responders, even after being entirely engulfed in flames for several seconds.

A social media profile of Azzarello’s shows him with ties to both the Philadelphia area and St. Augustine, where he’s reported to have lived since March of last year. He lists work experience on multiple political campaigns, plus other roles in marketing and business consulting. On another account he follows multiple St. Augustine-based businesses, further cementing his ties to the area.

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.



  1. Robert Kornacki

    April 19, 2024 at 5:29 pm

    I’m sorry this man did this to himself; it’s truly sad. “Trump and many of his supporters have alleged that the trial is judicial overreach to the point of persecution.” Well, the Federal Elections Committee already investigated this and said there was no wrong doing. Also, the statute of limitations has expired, and the alleged violations are actually misdemeanors that have somehow been elevated to felonies for some reason; I can’t imagine why. This county already has a publication obediently relaying the DNC talking points. We would welcome a truly objective news source that does a little more than regurgitate the NYT editorial page.

    • Chris Gollon

      April 19, 2024 at 5:51 pm


      The FEC dropped its case against Trump; the State of New York has not. As of now, allegations have been made against Trump by prosecutors, and allegations have been against the prosecutors by Trump. To write that either side’s allegations are definitively true at this time would be journalistic malpractice, and severely misleading in whatever direction the assertion was made.

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