Student arrested at NYC cathedral with gas cans found unfit to stand trial

What to Know

  • Ph.D. student who was arrested after law enforcement confrontations at churches in two states in a matter of days found unfit to stand trial

  • District Attorney for Manhattan Cy Vance, Jr. made the announcement about Marc Lamparello Tuesday

  • Prosecutors say he was “planning to burn down St. Patrick’s Cathedral” when he was arrested last month with gas cans and lighter fluid

The Ph.D. student who was arrested after law enforcement confrontations at churches in two states in a matter of days, and who prosecutors say was “planning to burn down St. Patrick’s Cathedral” when he was arrested last month, was found unfit to stand trial.

District Attorney for Manhattan Cy Vance, Jr. made the announcement about Marc Lamparello Tuesday.

Lamparello, 37, underwent psychiatric evaluation at Bellevue Hospital since his arrest in April on attempted arson and other charges after allegedly trying to walk into St. Patrick’s with two gas cans, lighter fluid and butane lighters.

Lamparello’s case has been adjourned to June 7 at which point he will be arraigned.

Man Charged After Arrest at St. Patrick’s

[NY] Man Charged After Arrest at St. Patrick's

Assistant District Attorney David Stuart previously said Lamparello, who police previously said had booked a one-way $2,800 flight to Italy that would have taken him out of the country the day after the St. Patrick’s incident, had also booked a hotel just 20 minutes from the Vatican.

According to a criminal complaint, an employee spotted him carrying the canisters and a black bag inside cathedral around 8 p.m. on April 17.

When an officer arrived on scene, Lamparello allegedly said that his vehicle had run out of gas and that he was taking a shortcut through the church. According to the complaint, the 37-year-old’s car had gas in the tank.

NJ Man Tried to Bring Gas Cans Into St. Patrick’s: NYPD

[NY] NJ Man Tried to Bring Gas Cans Into St. Patrick's: NYPD

Two days before the St. Patrick’s incident, itself days after fire ravaged Paris’ famed Notre Dame Cathedral, Lamparello had a confrontation with police after refusing to leave the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. When an officer told him it was closed, Lamparello said, “If you want me to leave tonight, you’re gonna have to handcuff me and arrest me tonight and take me to jail,” law enforcement sources told News 4. He still didn’t leave.

Other officers arrived, at which point Lamparello threw himself onto a pew and yelled, “No!” then scuffled with police who tried to apprehend him, sources say.

As he was being taken out of the cathedral, Lamparello told police he wasn’t leaving. “God wants me to be here. I know all the sins the priests have committed,” he said, according to law enforcement sources.

Steven Senne/AP

Eventually he was handcuffed and taken to police headquarters to be booked on charges of defiant trespassing, obstruction and resisting arrest.

Officials say they called in paramedics to do an evaluation because Lamparello wasn’t exhibiting rational behavior at the time; they found nothing wrong with him. Then the man’s mother showed up, said he had an apartment in Manhattan and said she was taking him to her home in Hasbrouck Heights. 

Lamparello has no other prior criminal history of note.

Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP

No one was hurt in either case, but some gasoline did spill on the floor of St. Patrick’s as Lamparello was leaving; he had been stopped by a security guard.

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