A man arrested after entering St. Patrick’s Cathedral carrying two cans of gasoline, lighter fluid and butane lighters had also been arrested at a New Jersey cathedral this week and had booked a Thursday flight to Rome, the New York Police Department said.
Marc Lamparello, 37, is facing charges including attempted arson and reckless endangerment after his arrest Wednesday night at the New York City landmark, said John Miller, the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism. It happened just days after flames ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Lamparello remained in police custody Thursday and had not been arraigned. Miller said there was no apparent connection to terrorism.
Miller said surveillance camera footage showed Lamparello circling the church several times in a minivan well over an hour before he parked outside the cathedral on Fifth Avenue, walked around the area, returned to his vehicle, and retrieved the gasoline and lighter fluid.
When he entered the church, he was confronted by a security officer, who notified counterterrorism officers standing outside. Lamparello told the officers his car was out of gas and headed in a direction away from where he was parked, Miller said.
Officers found his vehicle and determined it was not out of gas, Miller said.
Lamparello had been arrested Monday at a Catholic church in Newark, New Jersey, after he refused to leave at closing time, Miller said.
Maria Margiotta, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark, declined to comment on the specifics of Monday’s arrest, citing the ongoing police investigation. Our “security is vigilant and ensures a safe environment for all those who visit,” she said.
Before going to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Wednesday, Miller said, Lamparello booked a $2,800 ticket on a 5:20 p.m. Thursday flight to Italy.
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.