No damage at Cathedral after man starts small fire, bomb squad investigates

| August 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

A 28-year-old homeless man was taken into police custody Aug. 5 after lighting a piece of paper on fire and trying to insert it into a floor vent of the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul shortly before noon.

According to a statement Cathedral Rector Father John Ubel read at Masses Aug. 6, Cathedral staff reacted quickly to the incident and called police immediately. Fire fighters also responded. Police later called bomb professionals to evaluate a bag the man behind. Roads near the Cathedral were closed while the bag’s contents were investigated.

The all-clear was given and the Cathedral reopened at 3 p.m. Confessions and Mass were held as scheduled. According to news reports, there was no damage to the building.

“I am most grateful to the St. Paul Fire and Police Departments for their quick response,” Father Ubel said at Masses. “I am deeply grateful to the Cathedral staff for being on top of the situation, and thank all visitors who were so helpful and understanding.”

He added, “This unfortunate incident highlights the value of the advice, ‘See something, say something,’ for in this case, that sage advice was followed perfectly.”

In an email to The Catholic Spirit, Father Ubel said that some news reports of the incident as “bomb scare” are misleading, but taking the precautions to involve the police’s bomb squad “were called for” given the bomb that exploded at a Bloomington mosque earlier that day.

Police have reported that the man taken into custody will undergo a mental health evaluation.

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Category: Local News