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Hasbrouck Heights Professor Found Unfit To Be Tried In Attempted St. Patrick's Arson

Police displayed the items that Marc Lamparello was caught carrying when they said he tried to enter St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Police displayed the items that Marc Lamparello was caught carrying when they said he tried to enter St. Patrick's Cathedral. Photo Credit: Wikipedia/Creative Commons, NYPD

UPDATE: A philosophy professor from Hasbrouck Heights who authorities said planned to burn down St. Patricks' Cathedral was found unfit to stand trial, Manhattan's district attorney announced Tuesday.

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 caught entering the famed cathedral with four gallons of gasoline, two cans of lighter fluid and lighters on April 17, authorities said.

He was charged with attempted arson and reckless endangerment.

Earlier that same week, Essex County sheriff's officers arrested Lamparello at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark after he threw himself on the floor and refused to leave.

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, authorities said at the time.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. said Tuesday that authorities, after having Lamparello psychiatrically evaluated at Bellevue Hospital, had his arraignment moved to June 7.

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 night of the incident at St. Patrick's, 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 at the time.

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, 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.

Miller said that Lamparello -- who that night was described as emotionally troubled -- was already 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 the devastating blaze just days earlier at the cathedral at Notre Dame in France.

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