April 18, 2019 - 12:27 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Only days after flames ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, a man has been arrested after entering St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York carrying two cans of gasoline, lighter fluid and butane lighters, according to the New York Police Department, The Guardian reports.
The unidentified 37-year-old from New Jersey had pulled up in a minivan outside the cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, walked around the area, then returned to his vehicle at 7.55pm and retrieved the gasoline and lighter fluid, said the NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counter-terrorism, John Miller.
“As he enters the cathedral he’s confronted by a cathedral security officer who asks him where he’s going and informs him he can’t proceed into the cathedral carrying these things,” said Miller. “At that point some gasoline apparently spills out on to the floor as he’s turned around.”
Security then notified officers from the counter-terrorism bureau who were standing outside, he said. The officers caught the man and arrested him after he was questioned.
“His basic story was he was cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue. That his car had run out of gas,” Miller said. “We took a look at the vehicle. It was not out of gas and at that point he was taken into custody.”
“It’s hard to say exactly what his intentions were, 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,” Miller added. “His story is not consistent.”
Miller said the suspect was known to police, who were looking into his background.
St Patrick’s Cathedral was built in 1878 and installed a sprinkler-like system during recent renovations. Its wooden roof is also coated with fire-retardant.