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Report: Philosophy Professor Arrested After Entering St. Patrick’s Cathedral with Gas, Lighters

(INSET: Mark Lamparello) A picture shows the Saint-Patrick Cathedral, downtown Manhattan, on July 2, 2017 in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty; Lehman College
JOSHUA CAPLAN

A New Jersey man arrested after entering St. Patrick’s Cathedral carrying cans of gasoline and lighter fluid has been identified as philosophy professor Marc Lamparello, according to a report.

The suspect arrived Wednesday night in a minivan outside the landmark cathedral on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, walked around the area, then returned to his vehicle at 7:55 p.m. EST and retrieved the gasoline, lighter fluid, and butane lighters, said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller.

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,” said the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism. “We took a look at the vehicle. It was not out of gas and at that point he was taken into custody.”

He continued: “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. His story is not consistent.”

Miller said the suspect is known to police, who are currently looking further into his background.

NBC New York has identified Lamparello as the suspect before police have officially revealed a name.

Lamparello’s biography for his book Reason and Counterpoint says he “studied philosophy at Boston College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 2004. Marc has been heavily engaged in the study of philosophy from an early age, and is currently working on two other book-length projects, including a witty dialogue on arguments for and against the existence of God, and a series of essays on the epistemology of practical motivation.” He has reportedly taught for Lehman College, Brooklyn College, and Seton Hall University.

An Archdiocese of New York spokesperson confirmed the suspect was stopped as he attempted to enter the church.

“Nothing happened inside the cathedral,” said the spokesman.

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 fire retardant.

The AP contributed to this report.

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