A man accused of attempting to enter St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York last month carrying containers of gasoline and a lighter has been deemed unfit to stand trial due to his mental health.
Police arrested Marc Lamparello in April after he attempted to enter the cathedral. The 37-year-old is a New Jersey resident and Ph.D. student at City University of New York.
A court-appointed psychiatrist has now found him mentally unfit to stand trial, according to his lawyer Chris DiLorenzo, who also said May 14 that Lamparello suffers from schizophrenia and was off his medication on the day of the alleged arson attempt.
Assistant District Attorney David Stuart said his office would review the results and determine how to proceed with the case, the New York Post reports.
Manhattan prosecutors had that day indicted Lamparello on attempted arson and reckless endangerment charges. The suspect will remain in Bellevue Hospital Center’s prison ward pending a court hearing June 7, the North Jersey Record reports.
Lamparello’s apparent arson attempt took place two days after a major fire destroyed the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The cause of that fire has not yet been determined, but police suspect it was an accident.
Lamparello was also an adjunct professor of philosophy at Lehman College in the Bronx and also taught at Seton Hall University. He published a 400-plus page book on philosophy in 2016.
A friend of Lamparello’s family described them to the New York Post as “a good religious family” and as “strict Catholics.”
Lamparello was apprehended by cathedral security around 8 p.m. April 17 and taken into police custody by officers with the NYPD Critical Response Command. He attempted to start a fire using a lighter, police said, and he had a car nearby to escape the scene.
According to the NYPD, Lamparello had four gallons of gasoline, two cans of lighter fluid, and two lighters with him when he attempted to enter the cathedral. He was prevented from entering by cathedral security, but was able to spill some of the gasoline on the floor as he was leaving.
NYPD said that Lamparello’s story was “not consistent” and suspicious, though they have not yet determined any sort of motive. He claimed he cut through the cathedral as a shortcut, as his van had run out of gas. The minivan had in fact not run out of gas, which led to police taking him into custody.
He was charged initially with resisting arrest, defiant trespassing and interfering with the administration of law.
The attempted entry was the second time that week the man was arrested at a Catholic cathedral. Earlier in the week, Lamparello was arrested for refusing to leave the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey.
Lamparello has been arrested previously for criminal trespass and public drunkenness.
NYPD have confirmed that Lamparello had recently purchased a one-way airplane ticket to Rome, scheduled to depart the next evening, and had already cancelled class. He had also booked a hotel room not far from St. Peter’s Basilica.