Marc Lamparello, 37, was set to be arraigned on attempted arson and other charges.
This comes as Catholics prepare for Good Friday services at the cathedral. Heavily armed officers are stationed outside, a stark reminder of what happened there Wednesday night.
“We’ve been waiting 40 days for this weekend and to have to worry about that kind of stuff at this time is just sad,” worshiper Katie Ferrigno told CBS2.
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Police said Lamparello parked his minivan on Fifth Avenue and walked into the cathedral with two cans of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and two butane lighters.
He was stopped by security before he could enter the main area of the church.
“This gentleman walked in the door, he caught the eye right away and he was confronted,” said Kevin Donohue, director of operations for the cathedral.
Police were notified and took Lamparello into custody.
“The system works,” Timothy Cardinal Dolan said Thursday. “Does that mean it’s fail-safe? No. But that’s why we come to church – to pray for God’s protection.”
Two days prior to the security scare, Lamparello was arrested at a church in Newark. Police said he refused to leave Sacred Hearth Cathedral after closing time.
The 37-year-old from New Jersey was the music director at St. Joseph’s Church in East Rutherford and worked at Seton Hall as an adjunct philosophy instructor.
His Hasbrouck Heights neighbors said he comes from a religious family.
“They were church people,” Sal Altomare said. “It’s very surprising it happened.”
Police said before the incident, Lamparello had purchased a plane ticket to Italy and was set to fly out Thursday night.