Man with gas canisters, lighter fluid tries to enter St. Patrick's

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A man carrying a pair of gasoline canisters, lighter fluid and butane lighters tried walking into St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan Wednesday night, authorities said. (NYPD)

The man who was arrested attempting to enter St. Patrick's Cathedral with a pair of gasoline canisters, lighter fluid and butane lighters was arrested three days earlier in a cathedral in New Jersey, according to police.

Security at the iconic St. Patrick's Cathedral confronted Marc Lamparello, 37, of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, Wednesday night and called the police.

The NYPD mobilized dozens of officers to investigate what appeared to be a potentially alarming incident given both New York's status as a target of terrorism and the catastrophic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this week.

Police officers arrested Lamparello and brought him to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. He remains in custody.

Lamparello had pulled up in a minivan outside the landmark cathedral on Fifth Avenue, walked around the area, then returned to his vehicle at 7:55 p.m. and retrieved the gasoline and lighter fluid, according to NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller.

"As he enters the cathedral he's confronted by a cathedral security officer who asks him where he's going and informs him he can't proceed into the cathedral carrying these things," said Miller. "At that point some gasoline apparently spills out onto the floor as he's turned around."

Security then notified officers from the counter-terrorism bureau who were standing outside, Miller said.

The officers caught up to the man and arrested him after he was questioned.

"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. "We took a look at the vehicle. It was not out of gas and at that point he was taken into custody."

"It's hard to say exactly 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. "His story is not consistent."

No one was hurt, authorities said.

Before going to St. Patrick's Cathedral on Wednesday, Miller said, Lamparello booked a $2,800 ticket on a 5:20 p.m. Thursday flight to Italy.

On Monday, police in Newark, New Jersey, arrested Lamparello at Sacred Heart Cathedral for criminal trespass.

Lamparello was reportedly pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy at CUN. He has also worked as an adjunct lecturer in the Lehman College philosophy department and has held a teaching position at Brooklyn College, according to the NY Daily News.

St. Patrick's Cathedral was built in 1878 and has installed a sprinkler-like system during recent renovations. Its wooden roof is also coated with a fire retardant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Around 7:55pm, a man walked into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan with gas cans and lighter fluid, and was subsequently apprehended by @NYPDCT without incident. We thank our partners for their help, and remember - if you see something, say something.

— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) April 18, 2019