A Little Ferry New Jersey priest who allegedly aimed a gun at an eight-year-old boy recently pleaded not guilty in a Hackensack NJ courtroom.
According to law enforcement, the 55-year-old suspect aimed the firearm at the young child while the child was inside a rectory room at a church where the suspect serves as a reverend. The firearm is said to be a replica Civil War era musket.
The incident took place on September 13. The suspect, a reverend at St. Margaret of Cortona Church, allegedly asked the victim to go inside a rectory room at the church.
At some point while the two were having a conversation, the suspect reportedly pointed the musket at the boy.
A parishioner at the church became aware of the incident and wrote a letter to the Archdiocese of Newark. The church then notified the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.
Little Ferry NJ police conducted an investigation and later seized the gun, in addition to ammunition and gunpowder. According to Bergen County NJ prosecutors, the weapon poses a danger because it is functioning.
The suspect was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated assault.
The suspect recently made an appearance in Bergen County Central Municipal Court and entered a plea of not guilty. The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office is now expected to make a determination about whether to seek a grand jury indictment.
The suspect’s defense attorney argued that the incident, and the subsequent criminal charges, stemmed from a misunderstanding. According to the defense lawyer, the suspect held the gun as part of “good-natured fun” revolving around a football-related rivalry. At no point, said the attorney, did the suspect ever aim the gun at the young child.
While the suspect awaits further action from the prosecutor’s office, he is free on bail.
For additional information about this case, see the NJ.com article entitled “Priest Accused of Pointing Gun at Boy Appears in Court, Report Says.”