Man in custody after several Camden County and Gloucester County churches vandalized, police say

Three South Jersey churches were vandalized Friday morning, in Blackwood, Runnemede and Woodbury and police have a suspect.

"I just want to say this is a very active investigation," Gloucester Township Police Chief David Harkins stated.

Three separate Roman Catholic churches in Camden and Gloucester counties were vandalized after, police say, a man went on a destructive rampage, throwing several bricks and even setting items on fire.

"We are investigating it as a hate crime, yes," Chief Harkins said.

The arrest of 40-year-old Peter Sirolli as the primary suspect was announced by officials with the Runnemede Police, Woodbury Police and Gloucester Township Police.


Officials say Sirolli went to Holy Angels Parish in Woodbury Friday morning, around 7:15 and used what police believe was gasoline set fire to a wooden cross at the church.

He is then accused of going to Holy Child Parish St. Teresa Church, in Runnemede.

"He went there and took a brick and threw it at the stain glass windows in front of the church. Luckily, he missed the windows," Chief Harkins explained.

Police say a witness saw Sirolli in the act of throwing a brick and followed him to his next stop at St. Agnes Church, in Blackwood, while calling police.

"He witnesses the suspect throw a brick through one of the glass windows just above the entrance to St. Agnes Church," Chief Harkins said.

Police say he then set a nearby flagpole on fire. Investigators say a local maintenance worker caught him in the act and Sirolli took off in his truck. Sirolli was later arrested at a Seventh-Day Adventist church, after a slow-speed chase, lasting just a few minutes.

Father Joseph Szolack is the priest at St. Agnes Church and says he’s thankful a suspect is in custody. "No one was hurt. It would be much more challenging if he hurt someone or if he lit the church on fire or something."