LEBANON — A handgun found at First Christian Church in Lebanon on Sunday morning didn’t belong to a homeless man as initially believed, but was the property of an off-duty deputy from Washington, said Pastor Frank Moloney.
The pastor stressed that the Lebanon Soup Kitchen, run at the site, isn’t dangerous for visitors and volunteers.
The deputy was visiting the church for a multicongregation snow trip to Hoodoo Ski Area. He was violently ill on Saturday night and had a lapse in judgement, Moloney said. While he was getting sick in the bathroom, he placed his gun on a shelf.
A homeless man who was sleeping in the church parking lot came inside to use the bathroom on Sunday morning. After he left, congregation members found the handgun.
“A few individuals wrongly assumed the weapon belonged to the homeless man,” Moloney said.
The man was later questioned by the Lebanon Police Department and found not to be the owner of the gun.
During the Sunday service, two church leaders spoke about a “very expensive item” being found in the building, and asked the owner to speak with them.
The deputy, who belongs to a church in the Hood River area, came forward and said it was his handgun.
He also spoke to Lebanon police, and Moloney said the deputy could be facing an official reprimand.
Moloney said that because of the initial report, he has had 20 inquiries questioning the safety of the church running a meal site for the homeless and those in need.
The Lebanon Soup Kitchen serves 300 to 400 meals a week, and many go to single mothers and their children and other low-income families, Moloney said.