The locks have been changed at Lincoln High School, police said Friday.
All of them.
The man who had the keys to the old locks, building engineer Robert McKenna, is facing weapons charges and sitting in jail with bail set at $1 million.
Several days before he was arrested, McKenna was taken into custody by the Sheriff’s Department for mental evaluation and placed in Friends Hospital. That same day, Sept. 20, police found weapons in his Dodge Ram pickup truck, which was parked on the high school’s property.
A school district spokeswoman said the entire school, including lockers and the roof, immediately was searched by officers with dogs because McKenna had access to most areas of the school. Police said no other weapons were found.
Upon his release from Friends Hospital on Sept. 26, McKenna, 55, was arrested by a detective who works in the Police Department’s homeland security unit. He was charged with possessing weapons on school property and related offenses, police said Friday, Sept. 27. According to Common Pleas Court’s online records, McKenna’s bail was set at $1 million, and he currently remains in custody in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road.
School spokeswoman Deirdre Darragh said the eight-hour school lockdown began immediately after weapons were found in McKenna’s pickup. The lockdown involved evacuating the school as well as searching it.
“This was an excellent job by police, deputies, school police and homeland security to protect the students and ensure the safety of all involved,” Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.
McKenna, a unionized school employee, has been assigned to Lincoln since October 2007, according to Darragh. Before that, he was posted to the New Kensington Facilities Center, she stated in an email to the Northeast Times. McKenna was first hired as a custodial helper in August 1986 and was continually employed by the school district ever since, Darragh stated.
Asked if McKenna had any previous trouble as a school district employee, Darragh said she couldn’t comment.
Joseph Blake, the Sheriff’s Department’s spokesman, said warrant unit deputies had gone to McKenna’s home on the 4300 block of Devereaux Ave. to execute a court-ordered eviction. No one was home, and a locksmith was ordered to open the doors.
Blake said the deputies had obtained information that led them to contact police, who along with the warrant unit, went to Lincoln High. Blake said McKenna was taken into custody, turned over to police and subsequently committed to Friends Hospital.
Blake said the contents of McKenna’s home were removed and stored elsewhere. He did not say if any weapons were found in the home; police also would not comment on what was found in the house.
According to online records, McKenna lost his home late last year in a sheriff’s sale. It was purchased for $42,000. It currently is up for sale with an asking price of more than $82,000. The online listing for the property includes the phrase, “enter at your own risk.”
Police this week monitoring McKenna’s outgoing prison phone calls reported intercepting a conversation in which McKenna said that, when released from prison, “If a cop even looks at me wrong, he’s getting two in the face. I’m going to pull out a **** gun and shoot him right in the **** face.” The Sept. 30 report from the Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit’s Prison Intelligence Group was widely circulated within the department.
McKenna is scheduled for a hearing at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, in Room 406 of the Criminal Justice Center, 13th and Filbert streets. ••