The NYPD say a man from New Jersey is in custody after pulling up to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in a minivan, walking around a bit, then returning to his minivan — where he took out two, two-gallon gas cans.
The incident happened Wednesday just before 8 p.m.
Police say he walked into the cathedral, where he was confronted and stopped by security.
According to police, the man also had a plastic bag containing two bottles of lighter fluid, as well as two extended butane lighters.
After he left, St. Patrick’s security contacted Critical Respond Command officers, who tracked him down as he headed south on Fifth Avenue.
Officers spoke with the suspect and found his answers were inconsistent and evasive.
He said he was cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue because his car had run out of gas, but when officers located the car, they found that it was not out of gas.
He was then 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,” says Deputy Commissioner John Miller, with the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau. “I think this is an indicator of something that would be very suspicious.”
The NYPD said it’s too early to call it terrorism, but the FBI and Counter-Terrorism are looking into it.
Some sources have given the name, age and New Jersey town where the suspect is from, but News 12 will hold off on that information until police officially release his identification after he is charged.