Man Accused of Walking Into Famed N.Y.C. Cathedral with Gas Cans, Lighters

Helen Murphy
Man Allegedly Entered N.Y. Cathedral with Gas Cans, Lighters

A man was taken into custody on Wednesday night after he allegedly walked into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City with cans of gasoline and lighters, according to police.

In a press conference after the incident, New York Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said that a man had allegedly walked into the cathedral just before 8:00 p.m. carrying two two-gallon cans of gasoline, a plastic bag with two bottles of lighter fluid and two lighters.

According to Miller, as the man entered the cathedral he was confronted by a cathedral security officer who told him he couldn’t go into the cathedral with those items. “At that point some gasoline apparently had spilled out onto the floor,” Miller said.

The man then left the cathedral, but police officers eventually caught up after being notified by the cathedral security officer. “His answers were inconsistent and evasive, although he remained conversational with them and cooperative,” Miller alleged.

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According to Miller, the man said that his car had run out of gas, and that he was cutting through the cathedral to get to the next street over.

“We took a look at the vehicle — it was not out of gas — and at that point he was taken into custody,” Miller said.

An NYPD spokesperson declined to give the name of the suspect when contacted by PEOPLE.

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The incident came days after the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which reports say was an accident due to the renovations going on inside the building, and after the burning of three historically Black churches in Louisiana.

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral is located in Midtown Manhattan. The historic building first opened its doors in 1879 and is a popular landmark in New York City.