A man arrested by New York police after he tried to walk through St. Patrick’s Cathedral with flammables late April 17 has been charged with attempted arson, reckless endangerment and trespassing.
Marc Lamparello, 37, of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., was carrying gas cans, lighter fluid and igniters when he was stopped by security staff at the cathedral. He said he was just cutting through to get to Madison Avenue where he had left his car, which he said had run out of gas.
News reports said before his arrest in New York, he was arrested April 15 for reportedly refusing to leave the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J. There he was charged with trespassing, obstructing the administration of law and resisting arrest. He was due in court in that state May 1.
Police also said Lamparello had purchased a $2,800, one-way airplane ticket to Rome, from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. The flight was scheduled to leave Thursday evening.
News outlets reported April 18 that Lamparello is a graduate of Boston College and is a student at City University of New York working on a doctorate in philosophy.
The security staff at St. Patrick’s Cathedral told him he couldn’t “proceed into the cathedral carrying (those) things,” a spokesman for the New York Police Department told reporters later in describing the incident.
As the man turned around, “some gasoline apparently spill(ed) out onto the floor,” said Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller of the New York Police Department. This prompted cathedral security to report the situation to officials from the counterterrorism bureau who were standing outside the cathedral, he said.
Officers followed the man, caught up to him, and after questioning him about his reason for being at the cathedral, they arrested him “without incident.” On April 18, he was charged with attempted arson and the two other charges.
“His basic story was he was cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue. That his car had run out of gas,” Miller said in a statement to reporters April 17. Police said the man had a minivan he parked on the Fifth Avenue outside the cathedral. “We took a look at the vehicle. It was not out of gas, and at that point, he was taken into custody.”
Cardinal Dolan, speaking with reporters after Easter Sunday Mass April 21 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, addressed a reporter’s question about the thwarted attempt to attack the cathedral.
“It reminds us of the fragility of life,” the cardinal said, “that we can take all the precautions we can, and we do, and they worked, didn’t they, that’s the good news—but ultimately it’s in the hands of God, and He’s in charge. You do the best you can, and then trust it to the guardian angels.”
Christie L. Chicoine contributed to this article.