On Wednesday night, just two days after flames engulfed the historic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, a man was arrested with gas, lighter fluid, and lighters outside the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
As CNN reports, a 37-year-old New Jersey man was taken into custody on Wednesday night after being stopped by a security guard at the Manhattan landmark church. The man reportedly spilled some gasoline, and the guard told him to turn around. He was detained shortly thereafter by New York Police Department counterterrorism officers.
“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 we would have great concern over,” John Miller of the NYPD told CNN.
Before entering the premises, the man had reportedly grabbed the gasoline and lighters from a minivan that he’d parked near the church. Per the NYPD, No additional materials were found in the vehicle. But when apprehended by officers, the man reportedly claimed that he was just walking through the cathedral on his way to Madison Avenue because his car had run out of gas, though Miller said a sweep of his car showed that it did, in fact, have gas. The man’s identity has not yet been revealed, and CNN notes that he has been described as emotionally disturbed.
The arrest comes just two days after a devastating fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, which caused extensive damage to the 12th-century building, though much of its art was apparently saved. French billionaires have pledged hundreds of millions of euros to help with the cathedral’s reconstruction, and French president Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame within five years.