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Officials seize guns, ammunition at pastor's farm

Published: Thu, February 10, 2011 @ 12:08 a.m.


The Plain Dealer

The 232 weapons in three large rolling bins and four milk crates were on display at the Cleveland Police headquarters confiscated from Abbot John Henry of St. Herman's House of Hospitality in Cleveland February 8, 2011. Investigators with Henry's consent rounded up 80 guns with ammunition from a home near St. Herman's. On Friday, another 150 guns and ammunition were recovered from a Trumbull County farm the shelter owns.


The Plain Dealer

Abbot John of Henry of St. Herman's Monastary and House of Hospitality leaves a Dept. of Motor Vehicles bureau in Cleveland, Ohio, Aug. 16, 2007. Henry, 58, is under investigation after police and federal agents found 130 guns and boxes of ammunition Friday, Feb. 4, 2011, at a Trumbull county farm affiliated with the shelter, in addition to 80 guns and boxes of ammunition confiscated from Henry in January.

Staff report


Cleveland police, with assistance from deputies with the Trumbull County sheriff’s office, seized 150 guns and 1,314 boxes of ammunition from a farm on Creaser-Ashtabula Road in Bloomfield Township on Friday.

The weapons and ammunition belonged to the Rev. John Henry, a pastor who ran St. Herman’s House of Hospitality, a monastery and homeless shelter in Cleveland, for many years.

St. Herman’s is operated by the Little Brothers of the Divine Compassion Inc., which also owns the 75-acre farm on Creaser-Ashtabula Road where the guns were seized, according to records from the Trumbull County Auditor’s Office.

The farm, which includes a house built in 1880, poultry houses, a milk house and barns, is a short distance northeast of the village of Mesopotamia and a couple miles south of Ashtabula County.

Auditor’s records say the property was purchased in 1993 for $70,000.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported that Pastor Henry agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence from operating the monastery and homeless shelter this week after police seized the weapons and ammunition in Bloomfield Township.

He has not been charged with a crime, The Plain Dealer reported. City officials said Tuesday that Henry voluntarily admitted himself to Lutheran Hospital for an evaluation.

During an investigation prompted by a tip, Cleveland police also seized 80 guns and 874 boxes of ammunition Jan. 28 from a car parked near St. Herman’s after police saw weapons “in plain view” in the unlocked car. Pastor Henry gave consent for officers to search the car, the Plain Dealer reported.

Major Thomas Stewart of the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office said deputies accompanied Cleveland police officers to the Bloomfield Township farm on Jan. 31 to search for weapons but didn’t find any.

However, the only person there was a caretaker who didn’t have access to two trucks on the property, both padlocked. Stewart said he believes the weapons were found in those trucks on Friday.

The Plain Dealer reported that Henry gave police permission to search the farm. Stewart said Henry and his attorney were present at the time.

Cleveland police said the guns confiscated from Pastor Henry included rifles with scopes and at least three assault weapons. Police described two of them as M4 assault rifles. Some of the guns appeared new, while others were old, battered with scratches in their wooden stocks. A few of the weapons appeared to be antiques.

Cleveland Safety Director Martin Flask told The Plain Dealer that Cleveland officials know and respect that people have the right to purchase as many guns as they can afford. But Henry’s behavior cried for more attention.

For example, Flask said, Henry went to a Wal-mart between 9 and 10 p.m. and hung around the store until between 1 and 2 a.m. before buying guns and ammunition.

“This raised some fears that the purchases may have been for something other than a legitimate reason,” Flask said.


1NoBS(2763 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

OK, but if he's been charged with no crime, and has done nothing wrong, why did they seize his weapons and ammunition? Wouldn't that be considered theft?

Investigate the man's behavior if you think he's up to something, but he's not been charged with, or even accused of anything. Is it possible he confiscated these weapons from the people who spent time at his homeless shelter, and he was keeping them out of circulation? Is there another reason he had that many guns? How many is he legally allowed to possess? (hint: there is no limit)

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2lee(544 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Odd behavior and needs to be looked into but if he is OK then the state better give them back. I would like to know what law they used to take the guns in the first place.
NoBS has some very good points

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3peacelover(838 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Maybe if authorities in Arizona had looked into Jared Loughner's odd behavior and gun and ammo purchases all those people he shot might be alive today. Could be someone "dodged a bullet" here and I say good job by the Cleveland police.

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4big97redtj(16 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

That's bull$hit.

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5saddad(655 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Although the story provides little that can be considered a basis for taking this mans property the authorities might be taking notice of the fact that if one sets himself up as a religious leader he is about 100 times more likely to be a nut than the average person.

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6InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

This is either bad reporting or law enforcement is messed up. They had to have at least suspected him of something to seize private property.

Browsing at walmart for 3-5 hours isn't a good enough excuse. Weapons in plain view in a parked car? I can see 'securing' those because the car was unlocked, but even if it is a crime of some sort, how did that give them the right to even ask to search the rest of property? Why in the world did he give permission to the searches and seizure?

There has to be more to the story here. Right now, this article makes the police look very bad. They should have given enough information to allow the public to know that they're not just taking guns. What was the tip about? What was the basis for searching the property? Browsing Walmart for 3 hours just isn't a good enough reason. And why the heck is Walmart turning their customers in to the cops? Was he acting strange, babbling, or what?

Why didn't the reporting find out at least some of these answers before posting this article? This looks very bad against the cops (and I'm not too keen about Walmart turning in customers unless he was acting overtly odd or making comments). Why wasn't malitia involvement addressed? You know with that many guns people are going to assume that?

It sounds like he may need help and is cooperating to get it, but this article falls far short of telling an accurate story and instead will be used by the mlitia 2nd amendment nut jobs to support their attitudes. That is irrisponsible.

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7saddad(655 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

I like the analysis InCol.

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8InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

@saddad "if one sets himself up as a religious leader he is about 100 times more likely to be a nut than the average person"

That is an unfair and uncalled for remark. Maybe he's dealing weapons without a license? (they seem to have been found all loaded in a locked truck) Maybe he accumulated them because he considered himself a collector, but is having other problems so decided to let the cops have the guns?

Again, this article should have been handled better than it was and that falls on The Indy.

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9Morrigan(83 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Well, 80 guns and 874 boxes of ammunition is a lot of firepower. That's kind of over the top for personal use, don't you think? Who needs 80 guns? Just sayin...

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10InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

@saddad "I like the analysis InCol."

... not bad for a religious nut jub huh? (I'm Christian) :-)


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11InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

@morrigan: Who needs six cars or 300 beanie babbies? IF the guns were all obtained legally, there is no law against it. The cops can not search your property and seize your privately owned posessions just because you're and odd duck. They have to have a legal basis, they have to at least believe that some law has been broken.

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12saddad(655 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago


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13InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Just to be clear to all. I believe the police are acting correctly and it is the reporting that is bad here. I am not trying to put the police down and certainly don't have to stones to be a police officer myself.... I think the reporting in the article is the problem... this story needs a follow up.

On the other hand, as a verteran, I am highly protective of my rights and wouldn't consent to any searches without a warrant... so this story bugs me A LOT!

On the third hand, WOW! That's a lot of guns and I wouldn't want to have been on that farm (just the fear of a fire alone would give me ulcers).

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14oldwoman60(3 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago


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15Photoman(1246 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Note: FEDERAL AGENTS were involved. Where do all of these federal agents come from? Were they hanging around Wal Mart looking for this man? So we know at least three police agencies were involved. I suspect those who say much more is involved are correct.

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16InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

@photoman - were you there? The article says city police and county sherrif... it doesn't mention federal agents?

If federal agents were there, he's probably a gun dealer w/out license...

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17VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Believe it or not...with our current economic downturn and failing banks and/or poor returns on investments, gun collecting has become a popular format for many people. If you buy the right piece at the right time, you can double or triple your investment. Typically, guns appreciate in value, so you will not lose out as in stocks or real estate. With an average value of $350 per unit, the estimated value of 210 guns would be $73,500. I know guys who will buy a gun on payday and stash it away rather than blow their money on other needless items. You can find very good prices on used weapons right now, due to economic conditions. Those M-4's, M-16's and AR-15's can bring $1200 to $1500 or more. Show me any other investment scheme that can match those numbers.

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18peacelover(838 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

gun collector? with 1,314 boxes if ammo?

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19Morrigan(83 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

@InColumbiana - I agree that anyone can have any amount of weapons they want to, disconcerting as that may be. The problem is, guns are not Beanie Babies or cars. Guns are...well...guns!

And thank you for your service to our country. I'm a military wife and mother, myself.

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20Stormieangel(136 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Guns are not bad...in the hands of responsible citizens. Gun collecting is a hobby and why wouldn't a collector also have ammunition for them? Seems sensible to me, especially if he likes to target practice. I have guns and I also have a right to carry a concealed weapon. It is my constitutional right so I took advantage of it. I am hoping this man isn't up to something illegal because that would affect more than him. And I also hope the cops are acting on a false tip and are just doing their jobs. More information in the various stories sure would be nice for many just leave us angry about something or we are left with insecure feelings and in this case, confused because not enough information is available for us to decide what we really think about the issue. Morrigan, you made an interesting statement when you said guns are guns. Well, if they scare you, then think about the fact someone can use another weapon if they are intent on causing harm to someone....a baseball bat, a kitchen knife, an ax, a lot of things can easily become a weapon; it all depends on the state of mind of the one handling the 'weapon'. Guns have kept this country free. And even though we never want to think of a war on our own soil, it can happen and you might be tickled pink if your neighbor has a couple or more guns and ammunition for them. We are not invasion-proof by any stretch of our imagination.

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21InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

@Morrigan, I understand your concern. My reaction was because I don't like the idea of the police being able to take private property "just because"... so if we don't want a police state that can come and take pink flamingos off your lawn because an afluent neighbor complained, we all have to live with each other's oddities (so long as they are not against the law). After all, that is part of why America is what it is.

Thanks returned to your husband and your child for their service. (I'm prior USMC)... may God keep them safe :-)

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22Progress(58 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

What is this guy being investigated for???

What did he do???

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23truthsayer(1 comment)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

@morrigan: More people die by the car than by the gun. Just sayin'....

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