The philosophy teacher last week with carrying gas cans and lighter fluid into st. Patrick’s Cathedral had a clear plan, prosecutors say, to see the Fifth Avenue landmark ablaze.
The man, Marc Lamparello, also had a one-way flight to Rome – and a hotel room within a 20 minutes’ drive of the Vatican, a prosecutor of judge on Wednesday
“He was present at the church the day before,” the prosecutor, David Stuart, told Judge Kevin McGrath during a video arraignment in Manhattan criminal court. “And was present at the church for more than an hour before walking in that night.” His intent? “To burn down St. Patrick’s Cathedral, “Mr. Stuart said.
He was charged with attempted second-degree arson for the April 17 incident, and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. The judge ordered that he be held without bail at Bellevue to undergo a psychiatric examination. He entered no hearing at the hearing, and his lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Mr. Stuart said investigators obtained phone messages and other materials under a search warrant that indicated Mr. Lamparello intended to start a fire, and had “spent considerable time planning and surveillance the location.” Lamparello about 20 feet inside the church’s doors last Wednesday. One approached him and smelled of a strong odor of gasoline, according to a criminal complaint. The ushers customs Mr. Lamparello he could not stay in the church.
He left, gasoline on the floor, the authorities said. Outside, a police officer spotted him with the gas canisters and a black bag holding two containers of lighter fluid and a lighter, according to the criminal complaint.
Mr. Lamparello, who has addresses in Brooklyn and New Jersey, has been trying to get a shortcut through the church to get back to the vehicle. He was initially charged with convicting arrest, defiant trespassing and interfering with the administration of law.
It was the second church-related arrest that week for Mr. Lamparello. On April 15, he was arrested inside Newark’s Sacred Heart Cathedral after the police said he refused to leave the sanctuary. He told the church was a house of God and should be open at all hours before throwing himself on the floor and vowing to stay, the authorities said.