Man hadn't yet preached before congregation

A man shot during an alleged drug deal Monday had just relocated to Stagecoach the day before and was to become the new preacher at the Church of God. But he had not yet been before the Pentecostal congregation, a church official said Wednesday.

Minister of Music Curtis Lowe said Jonathan Stewart moved from Tucson to fill a slot left vacant by the retirement of Pastor Tom Mitchell at the end of September.

With $700 of the church's money, Stewart drove up from Arizona and arrived on Sunday. He was possibly given another $1,100 housing expense on Monday morning.

"Our primary concern is that people will associate him as a pastor of our church. Now we have a cloud over our church and a mountain to climb," Lowe said. "This is just a freak incident and should in no way reflect on the congregation. We're a bunch of good people."

According to the arrest report of Juan Martinez, 23, charged with attempted homicide and battery with a deadly weapon in Stewart's shooting, deputies found Stewart with a head injury at the Parkway Plaza Apartments in the 500 block of West College Parkway about 7:46 p.m.

Stewart initially told deputies he was shot when two Hispanic men attempted to take his vehicle. He later allegedly revealed to an investigator he was attempting to buy methamphetamine, according to the report written by Detective Brian Humphrey.

Allegedly according to Stewart, he met an unidentified female at Albertsons who told him she could get him some meth. The woman had him drive to 777 Broadleaf Lane where two men associated with the woman jumped into his vehicle and had him drive around the parking lot.

"There was some discussion about buying drugs and at one time (they) gave (Stewart) what he believed was meth," Humphrey wrote. "The victim said he tried the meth and learned it was epsom salt."

Humphrey said there was a struggle in the vehicle where Stewart was hit by the person sitting in the front seat and then shot by the subject in the back seat. The men allegedly unsuccessfully attempted to steal between $700 and $800 from Stewart.

Stewart was taken by helicopter to Washoe Medical Center where it was discovered the bullet only glanced his head and he was treated and released.

Lowe said the news of Stewart's indiscretion shook the tiny congregation of about 50 people in the small Lyon County community 40 miles east of Carson City. On Wednesday, Lowe spent the day answering two dozen phone calls from upset parishioners.

"Everybody's just crushed by this. I just tell them to keep on praying," Lowe said.

Mark Williams, state overseer for California and Nevada for the Church of God was not available for comment.

Stewart, who had been staying with parishioners, moved into a hotel Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

-- Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.


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