Marc Lamparello has been identified as the 37-year-old man who was arrested by NYPD Counterterrorism officers after walking into the historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City with two gasoline cans just days after a fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Lamparello was taken into custody without incident at the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York in midtown Manhattan Wednesday night, NBC New York reports.
He was charged Thursday with second-degree attempted arson, second-degree reckless endangerment and trespassing, the NYPD says. The investigation is ongoing and it is not clear if he could face additional charges. He was scheduled to appear in court Thursday. Police said his intent with the items he was found with seemed to be to “set a fire.”
Lamparello is a Boston College-educated philosophy professor who has been involved in the Catholic Church in the past. According to a bio for a recently published book he wrote, “A native of New Jersey, Marc Lamparello 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.”
Lamparello had a “one-way ticket” from Newark Airport to Rome and was set to depart Thursday night, the New York Daily News reports. His father told the newspaper that his son is a “brilliant” professor and sounded normal on the phone just hours before the incident. “Extremely out of character. He’s a brilliant professor. His writings — other professors can’t even understand his writings. Something happened, we don’t know. I spoke to him (Wednesday) morning. It was just, ‘Hi daddy, how are you feeling?’ Then last night was like what the hell? That’s all I can tell you.”
According to WABC-TV, Lamparello was arrested for refusing to leave a New Jersey cathedral on Monday because he wanted to pray.
No one was injured and there was no damage to the Neo-Gothic-style cathedral, which has stood as a symbol of the Roman Catholic Church in the heart of Manhattan since 1879. The incident comes two days after a tragic fire caused massive damage to the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. The cause of the Paris fire remains under investigation, but authorities believe it was accidental and possibly connected to ongoing renovation work at the cathedral.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is located on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets across the street from Rockefeller Center in one of the busiest areas of Manhattan. According to police, the incident occurred about 7:55 p.m. A heavy police presence remained at the cathedral as an investigation took place Wednesday night. The church was open and people were inside at the time of the incident.
“It’s too early to say that. It’s hard to say what exactly his intentions were,” Deputy Commissioner John Miller said at a briefing when asked if the incident was believed to be terrorism. “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. So he is in conversation with detectives right now. I think if you add to that the events in the iconic location, the fire of Notre Dame this week and all the publicity around that.” Miller said Lamparello did not mention the Notre Dame fire during his initial interaction with officers.
Lamparello and his family could not be reached for comment by Heavy.
“I’ve come to trust what we’ve got at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, not that we can ever take it for granted. Last night proves that it works. We’ve got a very well trained interior security staff, we’ve got the constant help of the NYPD, which usually has an officer on the block for ready assistance, we’ve got the ready attention of the FDNY,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a statement. “Does that mean its fail safe? No, but that’s why we come to church to pray for God’s protection.”
Here’s what you need to know about Marc Lamparello and the incident:
1. Police Say the Suspect, Marc Lamparello Was Spotted by Security With 2 2-Gallon Red Gas Cans Near the Cathedral & He Was Caught by Counterterrorism Officers After Being Blocked From Entering
The 37-year-old man, identified by NBC New York police sources as Marc Lamparello, is being considered an “emotionally disturbed person,” according to police. He was arrested with two gasoline cans, police said.
While initial reports from police sources indicated the suspect was caught with the gas cans inside the cathedral near pews, the Archdiocese of New York said in a statement that the man did not get inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “The individual was stopped as he tried to come into the cathedral. Was turned over to the police. Nothing happened inside the cathedral,” the statement said.
Police sources told the New York Daily News that in addition to two two-gallon red gas cans, the man had a lighter with him.
At least one of the gas cans did contain gasoline, according to NBC News sources. Police said he had four gallons of gasoline.
The man was spotted by St. Patrick’s Cathedral staff, including ushers and security, and was detained until the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau arrived at the scene and took him into custody without incident, police told WABC-TV. No one was injured and the cathedral was not damaged.
According to NBC New York, the NYPD maintains a uniformed presence at the church and that contributed to the speed at which Marc Lamparello was taken into custody.
Police sources told WABC-TV that the man parked in front of Saks Fifth Avenue and got out of his minivan with two gas cans and lighter fluid and was spotted while walking to the historic St. Pat’s cathedral.
Lamparello had arrived at the area near the church about 6:55 p.m. and walked around for awhile, police said. “At about 7:55 p.m., the individual returned to that minivan, takes out two 2-gallon cans of gasoline, plastic bag containing two bottles of lighter fluid, the type of which you would use to light a charcoal grill or a barbecue, two extended lighters, butane lighters controlled by a trigger,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller told reporters. The man then walked to the cathedral where, “he was confronted by a cathedral security officer who asked him where he was going and informs him he can’t proceed into the cathedral carrying these things.”
Miller said while the man was talking to the security officer, some gasoline was “spilled out onto the floor, as he’s turned around. The St. Patrick’s employee notifies two Critical Response Command from the Counterterrorism Bureau from our Striker Team who are outside that the individual went south on 5th Avenue and onto 50th Street.” Miller said the officers caught up to the man and began to question him.
“His answers were inconsistent and evasive, although he remained conversational with them and cooperative,” Miller told reporters.
2.The New Jersey Resident — Who Told Police He Ran Out of Gas, but His Minivan Wasn’t on Empty — Was Arrested Monday After an Incident at a Church in His Home State
The 37-year-old suspect, identified as Marc Lamparello, is from New Jersey, according to police sources cited by multiple news outlets. No other details about him have been made public so far. According to WABC-TV, he is likely to be held for a psychiatric evaluation.
Police sources told the New York Daily News that he lives in Hasbrouck Heights, a borough of about 11,662 people in Bergen County in the northern part of the state.
Deputy Commissioner John Miller said at a press conference that the suspect told officers, “His basic story was that he was cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue – that his car had ran out of gas.” Officers looked at his vehicle and, “It was not out of gas. At that point, he was taken into custody and brought to the Midtown North stationhouse.”
Lamparello is “known to police,” Miller said at the press conference. “And we are looking into his background obviously, talking to a couple of other agencies.” According to the New York Post, Lamparello was previously arrested for public drunkenness and criminal trespass in New Jersey, but details about those cases, including when and where they occurred, were not immediately available.
According to WABC-TV, Lamparello was arrested Monday, April 15, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newark. He sat in the church for about an hour and would not leave when he was told it was closing. The Essex County Sheriff’s Office responded, but he still refused to leave, telling officers he wanted to pray. He was then arrested and charged with resisting arrest, trespass and disorderly conduct, the news station reports.
Miller said police are talking to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office about possible charges.
Marc Lamparello’s brother, Adam Lamparello, told The Daily Beast, “Oh my god. I’m shocked this could even be true. I’m almost speechless. This is something that is so not him. I don’t know what to even say.”
3. Marc Lamparello Attended Boston College, a Catholic School, & Was the Music Director at a New Jersey Catholic Church in Recent Years
Marc Lamparello attended Boston College, a Catholic school run by the Jesuits. He also went to a Catholic high school in New Jersey, Bergen Catholic High School, graduating in 2000.
Lamparello also has other ties to the Catholic Church. He was the music director at St. Joseph’s Church in East Rutherford, New Jersey, as recently as 2013, according to a church bulletin posted online. Bulletins from 2011 and 2012 show him listed in the same role. The church’s pastor could not immediately be reached for comment about Lamparello.
A neighbor told NorthJersey.com that Lamparello and his family members are longtime members of the St. Joseph’s parish community. Lamparello lives with his parents in his hometown and a neighbor described them as a “good, religious family.” Salvatore Altomare told the newspaper, “He came in and out. He wasn’t at the scene all the time. I just met him a couple of times. Seemed like a regular guy. Nice guy. Walked a straight line. He wasn’t weird.”
Lamparello had recently been staying in a hotel in New Jersey, according to the NYPD.
Lamparello is a frequent poster on the Reddit community “AmIUgly,” where users ask for their appearance to be rated. In recent years, Lamparello has replied to dozens of women with critiques. He has also left comments on the “GoneWild,” sections of the social media site, where anonymous women post nude photos of themselves.
In August, he wrote about his own appearance, “I’m going through a phase. After not giving a shit about my appearance for 20 years, I’ve swung in the opposite direction. Now, I’m very vain and appearance-obsessed. I’ve lost 70 pounds, 25 more to go. Thinking about doing other stuff, too. Learned a lot about what makes people beautiful in the process, though, and thought I could share my knowledge on here to help people. I’m hoping that, in time, I settle down somewhere in the middle, conscientious of my appearance, in shape, stylish, but without a dozen plastic surgeries.”
He also wrote about struggling on a dating app, “Honestly, I’m getting murdered on Tinder. It’s a total self-esteem killer. I’m a pretty in-shape guy, and I’m going for in-shape women who are a little attractive, and have a few nice features. Not models, but just generically attractive women. I’ve “swiped right” on 500+ women. So far, not a single match. Depressing. I think I should probably give up on dating for the time being, and focus really hard on school and work and saving up as much as I can for plastic surgery. Based on the consults I’ve had with my plastic surgeon, I’m confident I can go from a 4/10 to a 7.2–7.3/10. That’s what I’ll focus on now.”
Lamparello has rarely posted about other topics, but did respond to a news story in 2018 about French people disliking President Donald Trump more than Putin, Xi and Merkel. He wrote, “All I know is, if the French dislike us for something, we must be doing something right. They think they’re so much more sophisticated and culturally alluring than us. But secretly, they’re jealous of us and want to be us. Never forget that, fellow Americans.”
4. Lamparello Has Worked as an Adjunct Professor at Several Colleges, Including Seton Hall, Lehman College & Brooklyn College & Published a Book in 2016
Marc Lamparello has worked as an adjunct professor at several New York and New Jersey colleges. He is listed on the websites for Lehman College and Brooklyn College, both part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system and there is a RateMyProfessor page showing he taught at Seton Hall, a Catholic university. The three schools have not commented about the incident that led to Lamparello’s arrest.
He has taught at Seton Hall as recently as this semester, according to the RateMyProfessor page. One student wrote on April 17, a day before the St. Patrick’s incident, “It was not a bad class, but the class drags and it feels like you are there longer than you are really there for. Aside from that, the class was insightful. Good professor.”
Another wrote in February 2019, “He’s an overall great professor but does have some weird but comical habits. He gives you all the notes you need, just stay focused and actually write everything he writes on the board. I didn’t think I would like this class at first but overall I did enjoy it. Would recommend.”
In a description for one of his Brooklyn College classes, Lamparello wrote they would discuss, “such topics as the nature and scope of knowledge, meaning and verification, the existence of God, determinism and free will, the mind-body problem, and the nature of moral judgments.”
Lehman also authored a book about philosophy, “Reason and Counterpoint,” published in 2014. In a press release from the publisher, the book was described as follows:
What is the nature of the a priori? Can we really rely on our own cognitive architecture in distilling the nature of moral-practical motivation? What role does cognitive science play in adding to the solutions of traditional philosophical problems, about which debate has raged for centuries? In Reason and Counterpoint, Marc Lamparello tackles these and scores of other exciting questions in contemporary Analytic philosophy in a sharp, incisive, and engaging manner. Presented in the form of aphorisms and paragraph-length insights, Reason and Counterpoint offers ambitious and highly creative answers to some of the most vexing philosophical questions, while also using skepticism to question some of the most basic assumptions at the heart of philosophical method and inquiry. Suitable for both the professional philosopher and layperson alike, Reason and Counterpoint will take the reader on a journey surveying major areas of philosophical discourse, leading to a richer and deeper understanding of some of the central questions of any thinking person.
Lamparello is also a Ph.D candidate at CUNY.
5. Police Are Continuing to Investigate & Have Released Few Details About the Suspect’s Motive
The NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau tweeted that they were still working to investigate the incident. “We are conducting an ongoing investigation at @StPatsNYC Cathedral,” Chief James Walters, the NYPD’s Counterterrorism chief said on Twitter. The investigation also includes the NYPD Detective Bureau, the Intelligence Bureau and the FBI’s Joint-Terrorism Task Force, “out of an abundance of caution,” because “we don’t know exactly what his mindset was, what his motive was,” Deputy Commissioner Miller said.
“What we do know, is carrying two cans of gasoline and the equipment to light that through a public area and a place like St. Patrick’s Cathedral is something that presents a danger to the public and that’s why he is in custody,” Miller said. He said the suspect was “creating a hazard.”
Police have not released many details about the suspect, including his exact motive and whether there is any connection to the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. A source told WABC-TV that the “timing is odd,” given that the incident happened just two days after the Paris fire gained worldwide attention.
Miller said, “There was some very good work done here, obviously by the St. Patrick’s Cathedral security officer who encountered this man immediately inside, as well as the two CRC police officers who tracked him down, engaged him in conversation, questioned him, located the vehicle and took him into custody.”
Miller said there is always heightened security at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “That is normal,” he said, “We’ve added to that in recent days and I think this is an indicator of something that would be very suspicious.”
Miller said Thursday that Lamparello had bought a plane ticket to Rome, Italy, from Newark, New Jersey, in the days after his arrest in Newark. He spent $2,800 on the ticket and was set to leave Thursday night at 5:20 p.m., according to police.
Miller would not get into why he Lamparello wanted to travel to Rome and would also not talk about whether Lamparello discussed the Notre Dame Cathedral fire after he was taken into custody. Miller said there does not appear to be any connection to a terrorist group.
After the Notre Dame Cathedral fire on April 15, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan talked about how his immediate thoughts after sorrow for the people of France was concern about his own historic Catholic Church building in New York City.
“I thought of St. Patrick’s. I said, ‘Oh my Lord, are we safe?'” Dolan said on a “Today” show appearance on NBC. “And we just had that repaired, and thank God the FDNY has been extraordinarily vigilant and helpful, because we’ve got a wooden roof, too. I don’t know what major structures don’t.”
Dolan added, “It was personal, because I thought, ‘What would I be doing if St. Patrick’ was burning? And that’s the suffering that the French people are going through, so boy, my heart went out to them. … There does seem to be a death in the family, right? And not just the Catholic family, but the world family. And as people gather around and look at the charred remains of our beloved Notre Dame, it’s almost like we’re at a funeral parlor. We’re seeing a loved one who has died.”
The fire occurred during the Catholic Holy Week, with Easter on Sunday. Dolan said the fire reminded him of “resurrection, new life, revival.” He told “Today,” that, “Listen, if a tragedy like this has to happen during Holy Week and Passover, not bad, because the sacred message of both of those is from dying comes rising. So maybe this is gonna bring about a great revival. You already see it from the French people.”