In what many are saying was inspired by the tragic burning of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, a New Jersey man was arrested trying to enter a historic NYC cathedral - carrying gas cans, lighter fluid, and lighters.
“Security stopped the man near the cathedral’s entrance before he could go inside," according to two senior police officials.
According to NBC4 New York, “The 37-year-old man from New Jersey, identified by law enforcement sources as Marc Lamparello, walked up to the cathedral in Midtown with at least two plastic gas canisters around 8 p.m. Wednesday," the NYPD and a senior police official said.
According to NewsWars, “Lamparello is a Boston College-educated philosophy professor who has been involved in the Catholic Church in the past.”
“Around 7:55 pm, a man walked into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan with gas cans and lighter fluid, and was subsequently apprehended by @NYPDCT without incident. We thank our partners for their help, and remember - if you see something, say something.”
Police officials shared details of the incident, based on what they now know.
According to Johnny Miller, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism,” As he enters the cathedral he's confronted by a cathedral security officer who asks him where he's going and informs him he can't proceed into the cathedral carrying these things.
"At that point, some gasoline apparently spills out onto the floor as he's turned around."
When the counter-terrorism task force questioned the man, he had a story ready to go.
"His basic story was he was cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue. That his car had run out of gas," Miller said.
"We took a look at the vehicle. It was not out of gas and at that point he was taken into custody."
"It's hard to say exactly what his intentions were, but I think the totality of circumstances of an individual walking into an iconic location like St. Patrick's Cathedral carrying over four gallons of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and lighters is something that we would have great concern over.”
"His story is not consistent.
"So he is in conversation with detectives right now. I think if you add to that the events in the iconic location, the fire of Notre Dame this week and all the publicity around that.” Miller said Lamparello did not mention the Notre Dame fire during his initial interaction with officers.
Lamparello, who is "known to the police," was taken into custody and they are looking into his background.
Fortunately, St. Patrick’s is unlikely to go up in rapid flames the way Notre Dame did. Although the NYC cathedral is a century and a half old, it was recently installed with a massive sprinkler system to prevent just such a tragedy.
In addition, St. Patrick’s has been under increased security since the 9-11 attacks, but because of the Notre Dame incident, there was even more of presence.