Northeast Times

Northeast man’s bail set at $5 million on weapons charge

DA’s office said Robert McKenna had booby-trapped his Devereaux Avenue home

Bail for a former school dis­trict em­ploy­ee ac­cused of bring­ing weapons onto Lin­coln High has been in­creased from $1 mil­lion to $5 mil­lion cash.

Seni­or Judge Fe­lice Stack this morn­ing also ordered a psy­chi­at­ric com­mit­ment for Robert McK­enna, Lin­coln’s former build­ing en­gin­eer, who was ar­res­ted Sept. 26 on weapons charges. Dur­ing a brief hear­ing this morn­ing, Stack stressed that McK­enna couldn’t just put up 10 per­cent of the new, high­er bail.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, McK­enna had weapons in his pickup, which was parked on the high school’s prop­erty on Sept. 20. Bring­ing weapons onto school prop­erty is il­leg­al for all but sworn of­ficers.

McK­enna, who since has been dis­missed from his job, this week re­tained vet­er­an de­fense at­tor­ney Jack McMa­hon. Dur­ing this morn­ing’s hear­ing, McK­enna was rep­res­en­ted by McMa­hon’s as­so­ci­ate Mary Maran, who told Stack that the de­fend­ant’s fam­ily had no prob­lem with a high­er bail.

Dur­ing the hear­ing, it was an­nounced McK­enna had been ex­amined and was de­term­ined to be not com­pet­ent, and the judge ordered the 60-day com­mit­ment in the Phil­adelphia De­ten­tion Cen­ter’s forensic unit.

Be­fore Stack quin­tupled McK­enna’s bail, As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Tracie Gay­dos ar­gued that the de­fend­ant’s bail should be re­voked.

Gay­dos told the court that 25 fire­arms, black powder, am­muni­tion and bomb-mak­ing in­form­a­tion were found in McK­enna’s booby-trapped Dever­eaux Av­en­ue home on Sept. 20, when sher­iff’s depu­ties entered to serve an evic­tion no­tice. McK­enna wasn’t home at the time, so depu­ties and po­lice went to Lin­coln and took him in­to cus­tody there for a men­tal-health eval­u­ation. Po­lice searched McK­enna’s pickup, which was in the school park­ing lot, and found four fire­arms, knives, black powder, a speed-load­er, a U.S. mar­shal’s badge, a ma­chete and am­muni­tion, Gay­dos said this morn­ing. They also found a long, hand-prin­ted doc­u­ment, which the ADA said con­tained threats against po­lice of­ficers and showed “an over­whelm­ing hos­til­ity to­ward ra­cial minor­it­ies.”

Gay­dos said the back door of McK­enna’s house on the 4300 block of Dever­eaux was booby-trapped with a cross­bow.

She also said po­lice had re­cor­ded a phone call McK­enna had made from pris­on in which he said he would shoot in the face any cop who looked at him wrong after he is re­leased from pris­on. Gay­dos wanted to play the tape for the court, but Stack had heard enough and raised McK­enna’s bail.

McK­enna had worked at Lin­coln High since 2007, school dis­trict spokes­wo­man Deirdre Dar­ragh told the North­east Times. He has been a dis­trict em­ploy­ee since 1986, when he was hired as a cus­todi­al help­er. In 2005, while work­ing at the H.R. Ed­munds School in North­wood, McK­enna was at­tacked by a par­ent, ac­cord­ing to an April 2005 Phil­adelphia Daily News story. Twenty-four stitches were needed to sew up a cut over McK­enna’s left eye, the News re­por­ted.

McK­enna’s new law­yer is a former as­sist­ant dis­trict at­tor­ney who once ran for dis­trict at­tor­ney on the GOP tick­et. McMa­hon’s most re­cent high-pro­file case was the murder tri­al of abor­tion Dr. Ker­mit Gos­nell.

The de­fend­ant’s next court ap­pear­ance will be at a Dec. 10 hear­ing on the status of his men­tal health in Room 406 of the Crim­in­al Justice Cen­ter, 13th and Fil­bert streets.

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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