Marc Lamparello, 37, of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, was charged Thursday with attempted arson, reckless endangerment and trespassing for Wednesday's incident at the New York landmark, according to a spokesman for the New York City Police Department.
It was the second church-related arrest this week for Lamparello.
On Monday night, Lamparello was arrested at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey, after he refused to leave at closing time, said John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.
Lamparello resisted arrest and got into a physical altercation with two deputy sheriffs, Miller said, citing the Essex County Sheriff's Department. He was taken to a police station that evening and issued summonses for resisting arrest, defiant trespassing and interfering with the administration of law, a sheriff's department spokesman told NBC News.
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Lamparello was evaluated by emergency medical technicians, who found nothing wrong with him, the spokesman said, and he was picked up that night at the precinct by his mother who took him home.
Before going to St. Patrick's on Wednesday, Lamparello purchased a $2,800 ticket to Rome that was set to depart at 5:20 p.m. Thursday.
Miller would not discuss anything Lamparello told investigators after his arrest, but said that "there doesn't appear to be any connection to any terrorist group or any terrorist-related intent here."
Lamparello entered St. Patrick's just before 8 p.m. but was turned away by a church security officer, who informed him he could not enter with the items he was carrying, Miller said Wednesday night.
Some gasoline spilled on the floor as Lamparello exited.
The security officer then notified two police officers outside the cathedral who caught up to Lamparello and questioned him. While he was cooperative, Lamparello's answers were inconsistent and evasive, Miller said.
“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 at a Wednesday night news conference. “We took a look at the vehicle. It was not out of gas, and at that point, he was taken into custody.”
Lamparello is listed as a doctoral candidate and adjunct lecturer in the philosophy department at the City University of New York's Lehman College. The school said Thursday it was in the process of firing him.
“We are aware that an individual was arrested last night after an incident at St. Patrick’s Cathedral," Lehman College said in a statement. "The individual was hired at Lehman College during this academic year, and was a part-time, online instructor this semester. We are taking the appropriate steps to terminate the individual’s employment with the college.”
Janelle Griffith is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.