An unsettling incident unfolded on Wednesday afternoon in a startling turn of events at the Lower Manhattan courthouse, which has served as the backdrop for former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial over the past 10 weeks.
Just four hours after the conclusion of the trial's latest testimony, the courthouse was abruptly evacuated due to a deliberate act of arson and vandalism on the same floor as the courtroom. The presiding judge overseeing the lawsuit, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, found himself amid this turmoil in his robing room.
He was taken aback when he heard shouts echoing through the floor. Swiftly, he was safely escorted out of the courthouse, although he remained unaware of any specific personal threats against him at the time. According to two courthouse officials who spoke with Business Insider, an unidentified individual set a small fire using a firework, followed by the discharge of two or more fire extinguishers.
This individual, who was not affiliated with the courthouse and remains unnamed, was promptly apprehended by law enforcement authorities. Quick responses from both fire and police personnel helped contain the situation, preventing any injuries.
Following the incident, the judge and courthouse staff were granted re-entry to the fourth floor around 5 p.m. to retrieve their personal belongings before concluding their workday. An officer advised those returning upstairs to wear masks, as the chemicals released from the fire extinguishers had contaminated the area.
At this time, the motive behind the individual's actions remains unclear. The courthouse has been the epicenter of national attention due to the high-profile nature of the trial, which involves allegations of civil fraud against the former president.
The incident has raised questions about security measures at the courthouse and the need for increased vigilance in the days to come. This unexpected disruption is a stark reminder of the tension and emotions surrounding the trial, which has captivated audiences nationwide.
As investigations into the incident continue, the courthouse grapples with the aftermath of an event that temporarily derailed the proceedings and left many unanswered questions.