LEBANON, Ore. - A church group chaperone got sick to his stomach and set his loaded gun on a window sill in the church bathroom, where it remained until a 17-year-old girl found it the next morning.
No one was hurt, and the holstered weapon had its safety on, Rev. Frank Moloney of First Christian Church told KVAL News.
The church made an announcement about finding an "expensive item" in the bathroom, and the man - visiting with a church group from Washington state, where he works as a sheriff's deputy - claimed his gun.
Moloney said a churchgoer filed a complaint with the sheriff's office in Washington state over the incident, which he said has shed a negative light on the church's reputation.
"It's an issue of a gun, and with everybody so freaked out about guns, it really did just get blown out of proportion," Moloney told KVAL News.
Church officials declined to name the deputy or the county in Washington where he works.
Lebanon's First Christian Church doubles as a soup kitchen. Initially investigators thought a homeless man left the gun behind; a mistake that Moloney said doesn't reflect on how the church treats their less fortunate guests.
"The gentleman took the (homeless) man down to the station to ask him questions. He was the last person seen exiting the bathroom," said Moloney. "And so an assumption, an incorrect assumption was made, and that's where i jumped in and said look just because this guy is homeless doesn't mean he has a gun."
Annie Daniels, a volunteer in the soup kitchen, told KVAL that none of the church-goers were in danger, and they still welcome everyone to a hot meal if they need one.
"Most of our guests ... are very nice people. They're very polite, they come through the line. They thank us for the food. Many of them appreciate what we do," said Daniels.