New York Police Catch Man With Gasoline In St. Patrick’s Cathedral Two Days After Notre Dame Fire

St. Patrick's Cathedral during the 2016 New York City Easter Parade
Theo Wargo / Getty Images

A man was caught carrying gas cans and lighter fluid while walking into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City before being apprehended by security on Wednesday night.

The man has been identified as Marc Lamparello from New Jersey, a Boston College-educated philosophy professor who gave classes at Lehman College and once wrote a passionate text defending President Donald Trump after he was slammed by the French.

The 37-year-old Ph.D. student was spotted entering the famed Manhattan church carrying two gallons of gasoline just two days after the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was ravaged by flames. However, police said it was still early to confirm whether the incident in NYC was somehow related to the one in France. They added that, after searching the suspect’s vans, they found an additional two cans of gasoline.

NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism John Miller said they had beefed up security at the popular site recently. He described Lamparello’s actions as “very suspicious,” which prompted security officers to confront him, as per The Daily Mail.

“It’s hard to say 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,” Miller said during a press conference on Wednesday evening.

According to BBC News, police took him into custody after he spilled gasoline on the ground. When the suspect was confronted outside the Manhattan landmark just before 8 p.m., he told officers that his van had run out of gas and he was “cutting through the cathedral to get to it.” Police then checked his vehicle and confirmed that he was indeed not out of gas. He was subsequently arrested without any incident, and Deputy Commissioner Miller added that they did not know what Lamparello’s “mindset was.”

The New Jersey native was reportedly active online and was critical of a news article that said French people disliked President Donald Trump more than Russian President Vladimir Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping, claiming that they were just “jealous” of Americans.

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As reported by The Daily Mail, his brother said he was “shocked” at the idea that Lamparello would be capable of something like that, adding that he was “almost speechless” and that the incident was very out of character. The archdiocese confirmed that the man was stopped right as he entered and nothing happened inside the cathedral.