UPDATE: A philosophy professor from Hasbrouck Heights was charged with attempted arson and reckless endangerment for trying to enter St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan with four gallons of gasoline, two cans of lighter fluid and lighters Wednesday night, the NYPD said Thursday.
Marc Lamparello, a 37-year-old East Rutherford native who'd been staying at a hotel in the city, was carrying a one-way ticket to Rome when he was arrested, police said.
He remained held at the NYPD's Midtown North Precinct on Thursday as reports emerged that he'd also been arrested by Essex County sheriff's officers at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark on Monday.
Lamparello apparently refused to leave the cathedral and had to be handcuffed after throwing himself on the floor, authorities said.
An EMS unit was summoned to examine his emotional well-being after officers charged him with trespassing and obstruction. His mother then picked him up, Essex County Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura told nj.com .
A bio for a book he'd recently written says that Lamparello "studied philosophy at Boston College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 2004."
He has lectured at Seton Hall University, Lehman College in the Bronx and Brooklyn College and reportedly was studying to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy at CUNY.
The FBI joined the NYPD investigation following Wednesday night's incident, Daily Voice has learned.
That night, Lamparello parked a minivan in front of Saks on Fifth Avenue, "left the car there for some time and walked around the area," Deputy NYPD Commissioner John Miller said.
He later returned and removed a pair of two-gallon plastic cans of gasoline, a plastic bag with two bags of charcoal fluid and two extended lighters, Miller said.
The iconic landmark across from Rockefeller Center was open, with people inside, when a security officer stopped Lamparello at the entrance just before 8 p.m., Miller said.
Lamparello spilled some of the gasoline as he turned around, and the officer immediately notified two nearby NYPD Critical Response Command officers, the deputy commissioner said.
They searched the area and found him on 50th Street off Fifth Avenue.
"His answers were inconsistent and evasive, although he remained conversational and cooperative," Miller said. "His basic story was that he was cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue because his vehicle was out of gas.
"We found the vehicle, and it wasn't out of gas."
The officers took him into custody, the deputy commissioner said.
An East Rutherford native, Lamparello was described as emotionally troubled.
Miller conceded that he already was known to police.
"We don't know what his mindset was or what his motive was," the deputy commissioner said. "But I think the totality of circumstances, of an individual walking into an iconic location like SPC carrying over four gallons of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and lighters is something that we would have great concern over."
It was particularly disconcerting given what happened to the cathedral at Notre Dame on Monday, Miller said.
Lamparello "presented a danger to the public, and that is why he is in custody," he said.
A large contingent of police quickly converged on St. Patrick’s. Southbound Fifth Avenue was temporarily closed.
No injuries were reported.
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