The New York City courthouse, currently the stage for former President Donald Trump’s high-profile civil business fraud trial, was abruptly evacuated Wednesday. This dramatic turn of events unfolded just hours after the day’s testimony wrapped up, triggered by an unusual incident involving a man setting fire to papers and then dousing them with a fire extinguisher.
Firefighters rushed to the New York State Supreme Court Building in lower Manhattan, arriving shortly after 4 p.m. to address an alarm on the fourth floor. Witnesses, including an Associated Press reporter, described a mysterious haze filling the stairwell between the third and fourth floors, adding an element of intrigue and urgency as they were hurried out of the building.
The instigator of this chaos, a man who was subsequently arrested, created a brief but intense spectacle by igniting documents, court spokesperson Al Baker revealed. While Baker kept details sparse, he confirmed the incident is under active investigation. Following the evacuation, those displaced by the commotion were quickly allowed to return, with officials reporting no injuries.
The identity of the man responsible for the disturbance remains undisclosed by officials. This bizarre incident adds a layer of unpredictability to the already tense atmosphere surrounding Trump’s civil fraud trial. The trial, a centerpiece of public and media attention for nearly three months, has been taking place on the building’s third floor, under the watchful eye of Judge Arthur Engoron.
Notably absent from the day’s drama was Donald Trump himself, who was not in the building at the time. The trial is set to continue with lawyers expected to present their closing arguments next month.
The courthouse, a fixture in the cityscape with its Corinthian columns and grand front steps, is no stranger to the spotlight. It has been a familiar backdrop in numerous movies and TV shows, including “Law & Order” and “Night Court.” Yet, Wednesday’s real-life fire incident has undoubtedly catapulted the historic building into an unexpected and dramatic headline of its own.