by Felicha C. Stevens
A part-time Lehman College philosophy professor was charged with attempted arson, trespassing and reckless endangerment at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, two days after an electrical fire destroyed much of the 800-year-old Notre Dame’s Cathedral in Paris on April, 15, 2019.
Marc Lamparello, a 37-year-old Hasbrouck Heights N.J. resident, taught online classes as an adjunct lecturer at both the Lehman College and Brooklyn College philosophy departments. On April 17, 2019 Lamparello was arrested on Fifth Avenue and 50th Street near the Cathedral, while carrying four gallons of gas, two bottles of lighter fluid and a plastic bag.
A security guard who works at the church spotted Lamparello as he entered the church with the items in his hands. During his questioning, he alleged the Cathedral was a shortcut to his car parked on Madison Avenue, which needed gas. But after searching his vehicle, the police found his car tank was full, debunking his alibi. Two days before Lamparello’s arrest at Saint Patrick’s cathedral, he was also apprehended at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey for not adhering to their closing-time schedule.
Since being charged, Lamparello has undergone a psychiatric evaluation at Bellevue Hospital and has since been fired from both Lehman College and Brooklyn College.
“It’s really weird because he was a philosophy professor, what were his ideas when he was doing that?” said Lehman sophomore Gianna Gonzalez, a 19-year old Film and Tv Studies major. “That’s a danger to us, as students because he’s in the same campus as us. And what example is he giving his students?”
“I was very surprised when I found out he was a Lehman professor,” said Lehman junior Breny Zunaga, a 25-year old Dietary major, and Manhattan resident. “Actually, it’s not that surprising now days because there are a lot of crazy people in the streets.” He heard the news through an email sent by Lehman College Vice President Jose Magdaleno, which stated that since Lamparello was a professor on campus they were going to find another professor to substitute his class because there were still students taking that class,” Zunaga added.
Shortly after this incident, three predominantly African American Baptist churches were burned down in Louisiana as hate crimes within 10 days of each other. Holden Matthews, 21, son of a local sheriff, was charged with these hate crimes.
“I don’t understand why hate crimes are done,” Gonzalez commented. “I think people should respect others for who they are, if you don’t like them because of that then don’t talk to them.”
“I’m a Christian and we believe that’s not right. We should care for each other instead of hating each other,” said Zunaga. “It doesn’t matter what religion we practice, we are all human beings, and we deserve to be treated with respect and love.”
In the wake of these crimes, New York City’s temples, churches, and cathedrals have been under high supervision by the NYPD to detect nearby suspicious activity.
Sarah Ramsey, a spokesperson for Lehman, said the school is aware of what happened at St. Patrick's Cathedral, and is “taking appropriate steps to terminate the individual's employment with the college.”