Cleveland: Shelter residents,..discuss clergyman's gun stash
- Cleveland: Shelter residents, former volunteer discuss clergyman's gun stash
CLEVELAND -- Abbot John Henry, of St. Herman's House of Hospitality, has yet to publicly speak about the stash of 80 weapons and 874 boxes of ammunition police and federal agents took from his home across from the shelter.
But some of the shelter's clients and a former volunteer, who quit because he saw behavior and practices that disturbed him, did.
The Abbot has not been charged with any crime.
Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis and his wife volunteered at the shelter, serving meals for about seven years through an arrangement with their Greek Orthodox Church.
But they stopped volunteering after seeing too many troubling incidents.
Rokakis claimed that some of the homeless men the shelter serves complained to him of abusive treatment while working on a farm run by the Abbot.
Rokakis called him "autocratic."
Rokakis claims he saw other behavior that was so "bizarre as to be alarming."
Rokakis claims donations of winter clothing from his church were never used and left to sit in clunker cars on shelter property.
Rokakis says he took his concerns and belief that the shelter needed new leadership to other clergymen and shelter supporters, but got no results.
"I think there are conflicting emotions because of the service he has provided through the years. But there's a balancing act that I think has been tipping in favor of radical action to put an end to this, " he said.
He called the gun stories " the most disturbing."
"If this had been a mosque on the east side of Cleveland and they located 60 or 70 AK-47's, I bet Homeland Security would have surrounded the building and shut it down," he said.
Early news reports said the weapons were found in the shelter. They were not. Some were in the Abbot's apartment across the street and others were in a van.
Rose Dottore gets food and help from the shelter.
"He's a wonderful person...he's not a felon..he has to protect himself...Why isn't he allowed to keep guns in the house?" she asked.
On Friday, police released an itemized list of the 80 handguns, rifles and shotguns.
Many were purchased at Walmart.
State lawmakers overrode a city law banning certain kinds of weapons.
Several men who would not give their names vouched for the care they get at St. Herman's.
One said, "It's meant everything to me. It saved me from a lot of problems."
Another man, asked if he was worried about the gun reports, said, "Nobody knows anything. No comment."
The shelter's website claims it serves 70, 000 meals a year and provides 11,000 nights of shelter.
It does not receive tax dollars.
The city, Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman, non-profit groups and other clergymen are deciding what they can do and what they should do about the situation.
They want to make sure service to clients continues uninterrupted.
They want to guarantee safety for the shelter's clients and surrounding neighborhood.
The main shelter has not been inspected by city building or health inspectors since at least 2005. No complaints were reported.
Police call this a continuing investigations and are making no further comment.
Abbot John Henry has not responded to our request to speak with us.
Police called the intitial encounter a "crisis intervention." The Abbot willingly went to a hospital for observation.
Sources say he has been released and has retained two lawyers.
They gave given the city permission to inspect the shelter.
Authorities are also checking out other properties in outlying counties owned or run by the Abbot.
posted: Nick Berezniak