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Man carrying gas cans, lighter fluid into New York cathedral arrested

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April 18 (UPI) — A man carrying gas cans, lighter fluid and lighters was arrested by police after entering a Manhattan cathedral days after Paris’ Notre Dame was all but destroyed by a massive fire, police said.

The 37-year-old man parked his minivan near St. Patrick’s Cathedral and attempted to enter the church at around 7:55 p.m. when he was stopped by church security, reported.

As he was being escorted from the building, some gasoline spilled from one of the gas cans to the floor.

“Nothing happened inside the cathedral,” the Archdiocese of New York said in a statement, NBC News reported.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said during a media conference the man had two two-gallon cans of gas, two bottles of lighter fluid and two lighters.

“His basic story was that he was cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue, that his car had run out of gas,” Miller said. “We took a look at the vehicle — it was not out of gas.”

He said the suspect’s motive was unclear and that he did not make any reference to Monday’s Notre Dame fire that saw one of Paris’ most-beloved and historical buildings nearly destroyed.

“We do know that carrying two cans of gasoline and the equipment to light that, to a public area and a place like St. Patrick’s Cathedral is something that presents a danger to the public, and that’s why he’s in custody,” Miller said.

The man’s identity will be released when he is formally charged, Fox News reported.

The incident is still under investigation.

New York City Councilman Justin Brannan tweeted that because of the incident, there would be an increase in police presence around local churches and houses of worship on Thursday.

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