MANHATTAN — A New Jersey man who was arrested after he tried to enter St. Patrick’s Cathedral with several gallons of gasoline and lighters on Wednesday night, was also arrested at a church in New Jersey Monday night, and had booked a one-way ticket to Rome, police said.
Authorities said Marc Lamparello, 37, could be seen on area security cameras parking a minivan on Fifth Avenue and walking around the area.
Lamparello returned to his vehicle around 8 p.m., retrieved two 2-gallon cans of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and two extended, butane lighters controlled by a trigger, into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said in a news conference Wednesday night.
A church usher confronted the man after he entered and told him he could not bring the items inside. Some gasoline apparently spilled on the floor as the usher turned the man around, Miller said.
The usher then notified officers from the counter-terrorism bureau who were standing outside, Miller said. The officers caught up to the man and arrested him after he was questioned.
The man told police he was just cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue and that his car had run out of gas, officials said. Police checked his vehicle; it was not out of gas.
Lamparello is charged with attempted arson, reckless endangerment and several violations of city codes.
NYPD also confirmed Lamparello was arrested Monday night at Sacred Heart Church in Newark.
Officials say Lamparello had also booked a $2,800 flight to Rome that would have departed Thursday evening.
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New York said an “individual was stopped as he tried to come into the cathedral.” The man was turned over to the police and nothing happened inside the cathedral, according to the spokesperson.
Lamparello was a part-time, online instructor for the current semester at Lehman College.
“We are aware that an individual was arrested last night after an incident at St. Patrick’s Cathedral,” college spokeswoman Sarah Ramsey said in a statement. “We are taking the appropriate steps to terminate the individual’s employment with the college.”
Wednesday night’s incident comes just days after a devastating fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The spire at the cathedral collapsed as Parisian firefighters battled that massive blaze.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral was built in 1878 and has installed a sprinkler-like system during recent renovations. Its wooden roof is also coated with fire retardant.