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

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.