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Man sets himself on fire outside the courthouse where Trump is standing trial

Natalie Musumeci,Laura Italiano,Jacob Shamsian   

Man sets himself on fire outside the courthouse where Trump is standing trial
  • A man set himself on fire outside the Manhattan courthouse where Donald Trump stands trial.
  • The fire was spotted at a park across the street from the courthouse.

A man was in grave condition after he lit himself on fire Friday outside of the Manhattan courthouse where Donald Trump's criminal hush-money trial is taking place, according to witnesses and police.

The incident unfolded inside a barricaded area across the street from the Manhattan criminal courthouse where a full jury had just been seated in the former president's historic trial.

Emergency responders received a 911 call at 1:37 p.m. and paramedics rushed the man to a local hospital in critical condition, a New York Police Department spokesperson told Business Insider.

"There are no additional safety concerns at this time, and the investigation is ongoing," the spokesperson said.

NYPD officials later said during a 3 p.m. press conference that the man, who Business Insider is not identifying by name, is alive and intubated at the burn unit of NewYork-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The man was born in 1987 and his driver's license shows he's from St. Augustine, Florida, police said.

Authorities said the accelerant used in the incident "appears to be some kind of alcohol-based substance that's used for cleaning."

The man had been standing in Collect Pond Park, located across the street from the criminal courthouse, where a few pro-Trump demonstrators had been showing support for the former president.

One onlooker, who said he was walking by, told Business Insider that he noticed the man drop pamphlets on the ground and then turned to look.

"He took a can, and he poured it all over himself," the witness, who asked not to be named, said.

At that point, according to the witness, the man took out a lighter and lit himself on fire.

"He was on fire for a while," he said.

One police officer tried to extinguish the fire with a jacket but failed, another man at the scene said.

Eventually, someone ran over with a fire extinguisher, and officials loaded the man into an ambulance, he said.

Witnesses said people at the scene were screaming. The flames engulfed the man's entire body.

Before the fire, the man threw a couple dozen pamphlets titled, "The True History of the World."

A QR code on the pamphlets linked to a Substack post published around the time of the fire.

In the post, an individual claimed that he was the one to set himself on fire. The post was filled with conspiracy-filled thoughts about the American government.

"I am an investigative researcher who has set himself on fire outside of the Trump trial in Manhattan," he wrote.

A police official said during the press conference that authorities do not believe the incident targeted any particular person or group.

"We just right now are labeling it as a sort of a conspiracy theorist, and we're going from there, but the investigation will continue," the police official said.

The incident didn't interfere with Trump's ongoing trial, as the court was on a lunch break at the time.

"Not knowing the motivations behind this sickening situation, it's difficult to make any definitive remarks, other than to say we are thankful that to the best of our present knowledge, nobody other than the individual in question was hurt," Karoline Leavitt, a spokeswoman for the Trump Campaign, said in a statement provided to BI. "We also extend our condolences to the traumatized witnesses on the scene and offer our deepest gratitude to the great first responders of the City of New York for their actions."

Pivoting from the self-immolation outside the courthouse where the GOP frontrunner stands trial on charges related to hush-money payments to a porn star, back to the campaign, the statement continued: "Today is more proof that our nation is in deep trouble and that perhaps more than ever, we all must work to Make America Great Again."

Trump's trial resumed Friday afternoon with a pre-openings hearing without any mention of the fire incident.

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