Pa. chief's hearing halted when gun falls on floor

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Associated Press

Posted on October 10, 2013 at 5:34 PM

GILBERTON, Pa. (AP) — A hearing for a Pennsylvania police chief who made profanity-laced Internet videos about liberals and the Second Amendment was halted suddenly Thursday night after a handgun belonging to one of his supporters slid out of its holster and crashed onto the concrete floor.

The loaded semi-automatic handgun landed inches away from Gilberton Chief Mark Kessler and his attorney. It did not go off, but attorney Joseph Nahas said that he and other officials were concerned about the safety of everyone in the tiny, crowded meeting room at borough hall.

Nahas said the hearing will be continued at a nearby courthouse, where weapons are prohibited.

"To have what happened in this particular room made of concrete and steel, I think, could be fatal for many, many people," he told the audience.

The supporter who dropped the weapon declined comment.

"It's alarming," Nahas said afterward. "I can't conduct my job appropriately when handguns are being dropped on concrete."

The gun incident marked an abrupt end to a hearing at which Kessler was fighting to save his job. Town officials have already voted to begin the process of firing him, but under due-process rules the chief is entitled to call witnesses at a public hearing.

At a closed-door disciplinary hearing last month, Nahas said borough council focused on other matters as they sought to dismiss Kessler, the only full-time member of the town's police force. Nahas said at the time the charges were trumped up to conceal the town's intent to fire Kessler over the videos.

Kessler has said his much-watched Internet videos, in which he fired automatic weapons while using foul language, were intended to draw attention to the erosion of constitutional rights. The former coal miner has spoken at gun-rights rallies around the country.

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