Adjunct Philosophy Lecturer from Lehman College Tried to Set St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fire
New York – April 18, 2019
Just two days after Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral erupted in flames, a man walked into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan with four gallons of gasoline, charcoal lighter fluid, and lighters, according to NYPD Twitter post.
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. pic.twitter.com/qEbmklnqzQ— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) April 18, 2019
Marc Lamparello, 37, of New Jersey parked outside the historic Midtown church about 6:30 p.m., and then he milled about before collecting the flammable items from his van around 7:30 p.m. Lamparello entered the building at about 8 p.m. with the flammable paraphernalia, but was quickly intercepted by church security, law enforcement sources said.
He turned around, but spilled some gas in the process, prompting the guards to alert counter-terrorism cops stationed outside the church.
When questioned, Lamparello claimed he was simply cutting through the church to get to Madison Avenue because his van, which was parked outside on Fifth Avenue, ran out of gas, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said at a press conference outside St. Pat’s Wednesday night.
But his tan minivan was not out of fuel and his “answers were inconsistent and evasive, although he remained conversational with them and cooperative,” Miller said.
“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, so he’s having conversations with the detectives right now. I think if you add to that the events at the iconic location of the fire in Notre Dame this week and all the publicity around that,” he noted.
Miller called the incident “very suspicious” especially given it came two days after Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral fire.
Lamparello is “known to police,” according to Miller. He has two prior arrests in New Jersey for criminal trespass and public drunkenness, sources added. Lamparello is a CUNY student seeking his Ph.D. in philosophy, and has done stints as an adjunct lecturer at Lehman College, a police source said.
Cops initially recovered two red, two-gallon Briggs and Stratton gasoline fuel cans, as well as a bag containing two bottles of Kingsford lighter fluid and a pair of barbecue lighters, officials said.
A third gasoline can was later found inside Lamparello’s van, law enforcement sources said.
Though there was no immediate indication it was terror-related, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is assisting the NYPD in the investigation. Lamparello was taken to Midtown North for questioning, the New York Post wrote.
On Tuesday a 21-year-old accused of burning down three African-American churches in Louisiana was charged with hate crimes, according to media reports.