Suspect in VA hospital shooting pleads guilty

AP News
Posted: Sep 12, 2014 5:34 PM
Suspect in VA hospital shooting pleads guilty

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man pleaded guilty Friday to assault with a dangerous weapon in a Veterans Affairs hospital shooting that wounded an employee.

Former Veterans Affairs employee Neil Moore pleaded guilty as part of a deal in which federal prosecutors agreed to drop a second charge. The 59-year-old Moore, of Trotwood, had also been charged with use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a violent crime.

Moore made the plea after a federal judge in Dayton ruled that he was mentally competent to stand trial. The judge had ordered a mental evaluation in response to a request from Moore's attorney, Frank Malocu, who says his client has a history of mental illness.

The plea agreement recommends a sentence of 5½ years in prison, which the judge can accept or reject. The count carries a possible maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $250,000.

Moore entered a break room at the Dayton VA Medical Center on May 5 and pointed a gun at several employees, and one employee was shot in the ankle in the ensuing scuffle, authorities said. Moore pointed the revolver at another person before fleeing, according to court documents.

Moore told police that he regularly participated in a card game with co-workers when he worked at the hospital. Authorities said he went back there intending to brandish the handgun to intimidate former co-workers he believed were involved in relationships with his wife and daughter. He intended to "hold the ex-co-workers at gunpoint while he punched them with his right hand," according to court documents.

Authorities said one of the card game participants lunged at Moore, knocking his .38-caliber revolver. Investigators said the gun went off at least two times, striking a housekeeping aide in the ankle.

Moore then drove to his sister's home, and she took him for medical evaluation at a Dayton hospital where he was taken into custody, authorities said.

Moore, who has been held without bond since the shooting, suffers from schizophrenia, Malocu said after court. Malocu told the judge that Moore has been taking his medication and was doing well.

"He knows he is going to prison and he accepts that," Malocu said after court. "He is very remorseful, and he didn't go in there with the intention of killing anyone."

The attorney said that the former Marine hadn't been taking his medication and his mental illness led to his actions.

U.S. Assistant Prosecutor Dwight Keller, said he thought the plea agreement was a "fair compromise" for all.

"Hopefully, we arrived at an appropriate suggested punishment," Keller said.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Rose set sentencing for Dec. 12.