Parishioners of a Patchogue church Sunday recalled a homeless man whose body was found outside the building Saturday as someone who had recently been eating at the soup kitchen there.
The body of Nicholas MacQueen, 65, was discovered just before 2 p.m. Saturday near Emanuel Lutheran Church on Main Street, police said.
Investigators have determined that MacQueen, whom police said was homeless, was "a victim of violence," although they did not elaborate.
"He had been around the last couple of weeks," said John Gallaer, a church deacon who described MacQueen's death as one of "life's tragedies," after presiding over two Sunday services. "We remembered the gentleman and his passing, and we also remembered his family."
Gallaer said it was important to keep in mind that "God works in tragedies . . . his glory is shown in those times."
Parishioner Sunny Eng said Saturday he found MacQueen's body at the church when helping to prepare for Sunday services and a weekly soup kitchen.
Eng, 50, of Holtsville, said he noticed clothes and bags outside the church's school building. Taking a closer look, he said he saw "someone laying down" and immediately called 911.
"I'm just extremely sad over the whole situation," Eng said.
Yellow crime scene tape cordoned off the area Sunday near two exit doors outside of the church's school building, adjacent to its preschool building.
There were blood stains on the concrete walkway near the doors.
But the soup kitchen, which has doled out meals since 1988, continued to operate yesterday, Gallaer said.
Richard Anderson, 61, who said he has been eating at the soup kitchen the past 10 to 15 years, said MacQueen started eating there this winter.
Standing on a sidewalk with a cup of coffee from the church, Anderson said he didn't know MacQueen very well, referring to him as "Nick." He said MacQueen told him about a week before his death that he was a Vietnam War veteran.
"I felt so bad for him that when I went to get my seconds at the soup kitchen to take home, I gave it to him," said Anderson, who said he lives in the village. "I didn't want him to be hungry overnight."
Anderson said he was horrified to learn of MacQueen's death when he went to services Saturday. "It was horrible . . . the church, the scene of a crime," he said. "I can't make any sense of it. He didn't appear to bother anybody or have any bad blood at the church."
David Tennenbaum, 83, of Islandia, said he was friends with MacQueen's late girlfriend Linda Becan.
"He was a drifter," said Tennenbaum, who said he had last seen him about a decade ago. "He was not a particularly happy person . . . He's at peace now. He's no longer suffering."
With Mackenzie Issler, Ted Phillips and Jennifer Barrios