Just days after the Notre Dame fire, police in New York City apprehended a man carrying flammables in St Patrick's Cathedral.
Police revealed that a man carrying two canisters filled with gasoline, lighter fluid, and a pair of lighters was apprehended on Wednesday night at New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral. The arrest comes days after the fire that gutted the Notre Dame cathedral.
A security guard at the historic Midtown church confronted the man inside the building. The guard notified police officers stationed nearby.
Polce took the suspect into custody as he attempted leave the area. John Miller, the New York Police Department Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, revealed that the man's motives were under investigation by the department's counterterrorism unit and FBI.
"It's hard to say exactly what his intentions were but I think the totality of an individual walking into an iconic location carrying over four gallons of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and lighters is something we would have great concern over," Miller said. "We're looking into his background and talking to a couple of other agencies."
The suspect's identity has not been revealed yet. Police revealed he parked a minivan near the cathedral just before 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
He then walked around the area before returning to the vehicle where he appeared to pick up the gas canisters, two lighter fluid cans, and two extended lighters. He then approached the cathedral.
When the man entered the cathedral he was immediately stopped by the security guard. He was asked where he was going, and told that he was not allowed to walk in carrying the flammable items.
Gas spilled on the floor of the church during the exchange and the suspect walked away. The guard then flagged two officers by the security guard who then stopped the suspect along Fifth Avenue for questioning.
"His answers were inconsistent and evasive, although he remained conversational with them and cooperative," Miller said.
The man reportedly claimed he was cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue because his car had run out of gas. Officers checked the minivan and determined that was untrue.
The incident came two days after a massive fire tore through Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, devastating the 700-year-old iconic landmark. St. Patrick's Cathedral, a New York City landmark, has heightened the already high security detail after the fire at Notre Dame.
Authorities revealed the man was known to law enforcement but did not divulge any further details.