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Deptford Man Arrested & Charged After Setting Fires at Several Catholic Churches & Causing Property Damage

A witness observed a subject, later identified aso Peter Sirolli, throw a rock at Holy Child Parish, St. Teresa’s Church. When he left, the witness followed him and continued to provide police with information.

Photo credit: Gloucester Township Police

A Deptford man has been charged with Bias Intimidation and multiple weapons offenses after setting fires and causing property damage at several churches on Friday morning, reported Camden County Prosecutor Grace C. MacAulay, Runnemede Police Department Police Chief William Sampolski, Gloucester Township Police Chief David Harkins, and Woodbury Police Chief Thomas Ryan.

On Friday, January 13, 2023 at approximately 7:29 AM, the Gloucester Township Police Department received a call that a witness had observed a male subject later identified as Peter Sirolli throw a rock at Holy Child Parish, St. Teresa’s Church located at 13 E. Evesham Road in Runnemede.

The suspect then left in a white 2021 Toyota Pickup Truck. The witness followed the suspect in his vehicle and continued to provide police with information.

At approximately 7:39 AM the suspect arrived at Our Lady of Hope Parish, St. Agnes Church located at 701 Little Gloucester Road, Blackwood.

The witness observed the suspect exit his vehicle and threw a brick through a large window above the main door causing extensive damage.

The suspect then returned to his vehicle and drove across the parking lot to the Parish Center where he poured gasoline at the base of the metal flag pole displaying the American Flag and ignited the pole.

The maintenance supervisor of the parish also witnessed this and yelled at the suspect to stop.

The suspect then fled the area in his vehicle.

The original witness continued to follow the suspect while updating Gloucester Township Police on his location.

An alert Gloucester Township Police Officer on patrol spotted the suspect vehicle on the Black Horse Pike near Church Street.

The suspect initially failed to stop for police after the emergency lights and sirens were activated.

The suspect drove at a very slow speed, and eventually pulled into Laurelwood Seventh Day Adventist Church parking lot on Good Intent Road in Deptford.

The suspect was taken into police custody without incident. It is not believed that the suspect is affiliated in any way with the Laurelwood Seventh Day Adventist Church.

During the investigation, a gas can and bricks were observed in the open bed of the suspect’s truck.

The suspect was positively identified by multiple witnesses.

It was later discovered that at 7:12 AM the suspect had lit a large wooden cross on fire in front of Holy Angels Parish, St. Patrick’s Church, located at 86 Cooper Street in Woodbury.

Woodbury City Police and the Gloucester County Prosecutors Office confirmed that that evidence identified the Gloucester Township and Runnemede suspect as the same.

At approximately 7:45 a.m., Sirolli was stopped by police in his vehicle in Deptford where Gloucester Township Police officers took him into custody.

Through the collaborative investigative efforts of the Gloucester Township Police Department, Camden County Prosecutors Office, Runnemede Police, Woodbury City Police Department, and the Gloucester County Prosecutors Office, Camden County Fire Marshal’s Office, New Jersey State Fire Marshal’s Office, and the US ATF the suspect is being charged with following crimes:

Runnemede Police Department Charges:
3rd-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose
4th-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon

Gloucester Township Police Department Charges:
3rd-degree Possession of a Weapon Unlawful Purpose
4th-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon
3rd-degree Criminal Mischief
2nd-degree Eluding
2nd-degree Bias Intimidation

Woodbury Police Department Charges:
4th-degree Criminal Mischief
3rd-degree Arson
Desecration of a Sacred Object-Disorderly Persons
4th-degree Bias Intimidation

All individuals charged with crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This investigation is active and ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact CCPO Major Crimes Unit Detective Cody Skinner at (856) 580-6053 and Gloucester Township Police Detective Dennis Richards at (856) 374-5706.

Tips can also be sent to CAMDEN.TIPS.

*Post has been updated.