Two days after a devastating fire at Notre Dame in Paris, a Hasbrouck Heights man was caught 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.
The suspect -- identified by a local law enforcement source as Marc Lamparello, 37 -- parked a minivan on Fifth Avenue, "left the car there for some time and walked around the area," Deputy NYPD Commissioner John Miller said.
He later returned to the minivan 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 during a news conference outside the iconic landmark across from Rockefeller Center.
The cathedral 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 members of NYPD Critical Response Command, 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.
The FBI joined the NYPD investigation, Daily Voice has learned.
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