Fallen Gun Brings Early End to Kessler Termination Hearing

GILBERTON — The controversy surrounding a police chief got even more interesting Thursday night.

Gilberton Police Chief Mark Kessler has drawn national attention after videos he posted online showed him firing automatic weapons and swearing up a storm.

He wanted to defend his name at a hearing Thursday night.

A crowd of supporters gathered outside the meeting.

But that hearing was cut short after a semi-automatic handgun fell out of the holster of a person attending the hearing and crashed to the floor of the Gilberton Borough building.

“We’re concerned for your safety, and we’re not going to lie, we’re concerned for our safety as well,” said Joe Nahas, the attorney for suspended Gilberton Police Chief Mark Kessler, as he explained to the crowd why Kessler’s termination hearing was coming to an abrupt end.

Moments before, a man was ordered to leave the Gilberton borough building after a semi-automatic gun fell out of his holster and onto the floor, landing right at Nahas’ feet.

“We’re in a very small room, it’s made of concrete. If a gun were to be chambered and a gun were to land on concrete, as it just did, we could be injured,” said Nahas.

Kessler and his attorney called for this public hearing to fight the termination process ordered by borough council. Kessler’s has been suspended since the end of July, after a profanity laced video of him firing automatic weapons was posted on YouTube.

Attorneys were in the process of questioning Kessler’s boss, Gilberton Mayor Mary Lou Hannon, when the gun fell.

“Did Mark Kessler abuse the COSTARS program by buying tires for his personal vehicle?” asked an attorney for the borough, referring to a state program that allows municipalities to get discounts on products purchased for government uses.

“Yes he did,” answered Hannon.

“Did Mark Kessler jeopardize the borough’s ability to participate in the COSTARS program,” asked the attorney.

“Yes he did,” answered Hannon.

Last month, council voted to continue Kessler’s suspension as the termination process against him moves forward. They said Kessler failed his duties as a chief, used borough property without permission, and had behavior unbecoming of an officer.

His attorney argues they are upset with that video and are using phony claims as an excuse to get rid of him.

“These are bald face accusations, that they simply have no credence to them whatsoever and that they were simply designed to terminate my client,” said Nahas.

The attorneys for both sides said the termination hearing will now be held at the Schuylkill County Courthouse for safety reasons.

The new hearing date has yet to be rescheduled.

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