An eastern Pennsylvania town says it intends to fire a police chief previously suspended after he posted online videos of himself shooting automatic weapons and going on profanity-laced tirades about liberals and the Second Amendment.
The announcement of Gilberton's plan to fire police chief Mark Kessler was made Thursday. It came after a closed-door disciplinary hearing his lawyer says concerned unrelated and trumped-up allegations town officials were using to conceal their intent to fire him over the videos.
Kessler told reporters outside his disciplinary hearing that he had been an excellent police chief and had nothing to apologize for.
Kessler said the decision was "no surprise" and that he knew it was coming.
Kessler's pro-gun videos have garnered hundreds of thousands of views online. He acknowledges they are inflammatory but says they're designed to draw attention to what he views as the erosion of Second Amendment and other constitutional rights.
"It's not easy. It's stressful, it's really stressful," said Kessler, who has solicited donations to help keep his family afloat financially during his unpaid suspension. "But I feel in my heart I'm doing the right thing. Yeah, I made some videos with some choice language, but that's my right. That's my freedom."
A handful of members of Kessler's "Constitution Security Force," a pro-gun group that critics have likened to a private militia, showed up in support Thursday, openly carrying assault weapons and handguns. Some of Kessler's supporters got into a heated argument with an opponent.
Joseph Nahas said the borough claimed that Kessler made improper use of a state-administered purchasing program to buy discounted tires for his personal vehicle, failed to submit required crime data, and made derogatory comments about borough officials, among other allegations that he asserted were an attempt to "move it away from the videos that you've all seen."
"None of these allegations have any merit whatsoever," Nahas said. "These are simply bald-faced lies to try to terminate my client."
John Dean, the borough's lawyer, declined to comment after the hearing, calling it a personnel matter.