DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A former Veterans Affairs employee who pleaded guilty to a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon in a VA hospital shooting that wounded his former co-worker in the ankle was sentenced Friday to 5 1/2 years in prison.
Neil Moore, 59, of Trotwood, will get credit for time served. He pleaded guilty in September to the one count in an agreement with prosecutors. They dropped a charge of use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a violent crime.
Moore entered a break room at the Dayton VA Medical Center on May 5 and pointed a gun at several employees, one of whom was shot in a scuffle, authorities said.
The injured man told the judge in Dayton federal court Friday that he and Moore had been friends for years and didn't believe Moore meant to hurt him.
"I don't think he's a bad guy," Paul Burnside, of Dayton, said. "I think he made a mistake."
Moore was ruled mentally competent to stand trial, but defense attorney Frank Malocu has said that Moore has an extensive history of mental illness and was diagnosed with schizophrenia decades ago. He has said Moore's illness and lack of medication for over two years led to his actions.
"His delusions caused it," Malocu told the judge.
Moore, who has been in custody since his May arrest, told the judge he was sorry.
"It wasn't intended," he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Sistla declined to comment after court, but federal prosecutor Dwight Keller in September called the agreement a fair compromise. The count carries a possible maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $250,000.
The judge didn't impose a fine but said Moore would have to make restitution to Burnside. The amount is still to be determined. Moore also must serve three years' probation.
Moore told police he regularly participated in a card game with co-workers when he worked at the hospital. Authorities said he went back intending to brandish the handgun to intimidate former co-workers while also punching them, according to court documents.
Authorities said a game participant lunged at Moore, knocking his .38-caliber revolver. Investigators said the gun went off, injuring Burnside.