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Egan OK

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Pierce O’Reilly

Churchgoers at a packed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Monday were stunned during the 10:15 a.m. Mass when a mentally disturbed patient lunged from his place in line and attacked Archbishop Edward Egan.

According to police reports, Bishop Egan was administering the Eucharist when the incident occurred. He finished his service after the attacker was removed.

Timothy Byrne, 38, screamed, "I have to arrest the bishop," as he approached the church leader, a massgoer said.

Byrne, with an address at Hoboken, N.J., rushed forward with two sets of handcuffs he had tied together. One of the handcuffs was secured to his own wrist while the other, reinforced with glue, would have been extremely difficult to open had it been snapped shut on the archbishop’s wrist, police said.

Two church ushers came to the assistance of Bishop Egan and wrestled the attacker to the ground and quickly restrained him.

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Off-duty Police Sgt. Daniel DiPrenda, who had just received Communion, was also on hand to subdue the offender. Officer Thomas Regel, a uniformed police officer who was on duty in the church, reached the archbishop at around the same time and helped remove him from the church through a side exit. Parishioners said that Egan looked shocked but nevertheless finished the service.

Byrne, who media reports have described as an unemployed architect, was charged with attempted unlawful imprisonment, attempted assault, disorderly conduct, harassment, disrupting a religious service, and criminal possession of a weapon for having two cans of mace in his bag when he was subdued.

Police said Byrne had a history of mental illness. He has tried unsuccessfully to sue the Catholic Church for more than a year, claiming that it is running a massive fraud operation. One officer said Byrne’s bag contained several court documents that had been dismissed by different judges.

Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said Egan, 68, was not harmed in the attack and that he was comfortable after the incident.

Police said that Byrne had been interviewed by authorities at least once before. It’s was reported that he had made threats against President Clinton in 1999 and that police had visited his apartment as a result.

Monday’s attack bore similarities to a1988 killing at St. Patrick’s Cathedral when a naked man rushed into the church and bludgeoned a 77-year-old parishioner. The attacker was shot dead later by police.

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