A former CUNY philosophy professor released from Rikers Island over COVID-19 concerns after being convicted of trying to torch St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York has taken his life, according to his family.
Marc Lamparello, 38, was freed on March 20 as part of a prison-wide effort to mitigate the spread of the deadly coronavirus, but was refused mental-health support despite being diagnosed with schizophrenia and requiring care, which he received in prison. Justice Steven Statsinger signed his release under the condition that he participate in an outpatient program at New Jersey’s Bergen New Bridge Medical Center. But the center refused to treat him unless he carried out a two-week quarantine. His family told the New York Post that the facility dropped him as a patient after his quarantine ended.
A month after his release, police found his body near the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.
His family says the hospital should have insisted he continue treatment even while quarantined. “The hospital dropped the ball tremendously,” his mother Dolores Lamparello said through her lawyer. “They did nothing. My son went a whole month without any treatment whatsoever. They cost my son his life.”
Lamparello’s mother says the hospital errantly dropped him as a patient, despite the judge’s order. “He was told he had to quarantine for two weeks and was later dropped as a patient without explanation,” she said, telling the Post he told her, “Mom, I need structure. I can’t do nothing.”
A few days after being dropped as a patient, on April 9, he took his mother’s car and drove to George Washington Bridge, where he climbed up a fence and called 911. He was talked down by police and admitted to New Bridge Medical Center, where he spent four days. Upon his release, he was readmitted to the original health-care center that had refused him, and planned to start treatment via Zoom on Monday. His life was ended before the sessions could begin.
The New Bridge center has since released a statement. “We send our condolences and sympathy to Mr. Lamparello’s loved ones,” the statement reads. “While we cannot discuss specifics, the individual referenced had involvement with a variety of medical, psychiatric, and law-enforcement agencies. His interactions with our facility and the treatment we provided followed our protocols.”
Before he was detained with two gas canisters inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in April 2019, Lamparello was arrested for refusing to leave a church in Newark, New Jersey. At the time, he told officers, “If you want me to leave tonight, you’re gonna have to handcuff me and arrest me tonight and take me to jail.”
A few days later—days after the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris—he was caught inside the New York church with two gasoline canisters and a lighter. He said he was just “passing through the church” after his car ran out of gas but admitted at the time he had stopped taking his medication to treat his schizophrenia.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741