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U.S. Marine, cousin charged in shooting at Ridgewood church

Photo Credit: Courtesy BERGEN COUNTY SHERIFF
Photo Credit: Courtesy BERGEN COUNTY SHERIFF
Photo Credit: Courtesy BERGEN COUNTY SHERIFF

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A U.S. Marine corporal from South Jersey who’d been in military custody in North Carolina more than a week was charged today with participating with his cousin, a former Marine from Ridgewood, in firing an assault rifle at an unoccupied village church, sending several high-caliber bullets through a stained-glass window.

The Marines were transferring Joseph M. Galli, 21  ( inset above ), from their custody at Camp LeJune to the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department, who will hold him for extradition proceedings.

He was seized after police here arrested Alexander Norrell, 22, in connection with the estimated $50,000 worth of damage to the Old Paramus Reformed Church building in Ridgewood on Nov. 16 and Dec. 26.

Galli, an active lance corporal rifleman with the 1st Battalion 6th Marine Regiment, was charged by authorities in New Jersey with possession of an assault weapon, manufacturing and possessing an assault weapon, illegal weapons possession and criminal mischief.

“New Jersey drive,” Galli (right, with Norrell, left) posted on his Facebook page on Dec. 8

Additional charges were also served on Norrell for conspiracy — one to illegally possess a firearm and the other to commit criminal mischief — at the Bergen County Jail, where he’s been held since a raid at his home last Tuesday.

Authorities at the time seized at least two assault rifles and .223-caliber ammunition matching the kind used at the church and charged Norrell with possessing high-capacity magazines, marijuana and drug paraphernalia ( SEE: Probe of shooting at Ridgewood church leads to arrest of former Marine corporal ).

The new charges boosted his bail to $105,000.

An estimated 30 or more shots apparently were fired overnight Christmas evening into the morning of Dec. 26 into the more than 200-year-old building. A church worker discovered the damage the next morning. This came after nearly a dozen shots were fired at the building on Nov. 16.

Alex Norrell
(MUGSHOT: Courtesy BERGEN COUNTY SHERIFF)

An investigation determined that no individual or group was targeted in the shootings, authorities emphasized. It was more a matter of the building being isolated and convenient, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said this afternoon.

“While this matter is still under investigation, we wanted to provide information of these arrests to hopefully provide some level of comfort for our community which has been understandably shaken by this event,”  Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward said in a news release issued a short time earlier by Molinelli.

“To help further alleviate any further concerns it should be said that there are no other suspects believed to be involved in this incident,” Ward said.

Several agencies joined village police in the investigation — among them, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and the Bergen County Regional SWAT Team.

The Marines also played an active role and were conducting an investigation of their own.

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