By Christine Rousselle
A man is in custody after he attempted to bring containers of gasoline into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City Wednesday night.
The man was apprehended by cathedral security around 8 p.m. and taken into police custody by officers with the NYPD Critical Response Command. He attempted to start a fire using a lighter, and police said he had a car nearby to escape the scene.
Police have not yet released the identity of the man, other than confirming he is 37-years-old and from New Jersey. He is thought to be “mentally disturbed.”
The last scheduled Mass for Wednesday was celebrated at 5:30 p.m., per the cathedral’s website.
A spokesperson from the Archdiocese of New York told CNA that “the individual was stopped as he tried to come into the cathedral” before he was turned over to the police.
The New York Daily News reported that the man was able to spill gasoline on the floor of the church, but this has not yet been confirmed.
The NYPD told CNA they will be holding a press conference later Wednesday night to update the public with more details of the incident.
On Tuesday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City expressed concern for the safety of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which, like Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, also has a wooden roof.
“I thought of St. Patrick’s. I said, ‘Oh my Lord, are we safe?’” said Dolan of the Paris fire.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral recently underwent a $177 million restoration project, which included new fire safety features.
“Thank God the FDNY has been extraordinarily vigilant and helpful, because we’ve got a wooden roof too,” said Dolan.