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Brighton Murder Suspect Held Without Bail 03:44

This article is more than 8 years old.

The man accused of killing his neighbor at a public housing complex in Brighton pleaded not guilty to murder charges in a Boston courtroom Thursday. He is being held without bail.

Meantime, Randy Moore's fellow residents at the John J. Carroll Apartments are struggling to understand Wednesday’s violence.

Moore appeared in court Thursday wearing a white, long-sleeve jumpsuit. A large tattoo covered the visible side of his neck.

Prosecutors accused Moore of using a shotgun to kill his downstairs neighbor, 78-year-old William Thomas, around 11 a.m. Wednesday. The police got there within minutes.

"They found Mr. Thomas sitting in his wheelchair, suffering from a large gunshot wound to the chest," Assistant District Attorney Mark Hallal said.

Moore fired on police and paramedics as they tried to take Thomas out of the building, Hallal told the judge in Brighton District Court.

"Because of a sick individual, who wanted to take personal issues with certain people, and now they both are paying the price."

Tarita Turner, John J. Carroll Apartments resident

Resident James Carew wanted to know why Moore, at 54, was living in the public housing complex.

"I wanted to know why he's in here, he's disabled, so I wanted to know what his disability was," Carew said. "If it's like they say, he had mental issues or stress issues, I don't know. But I want to know if he did, how the heck did he get a gun permit?"

WBUR has learned Moore had a firearm identification card since 1992. There were only four years during that period when he let his permit lapse. The card, which allows someone to own a rifle or shotgun, is easier to get than a license to carry a pistol.

Mental illness can, in some cases, disqualify someone from getting a firearm identification card, although the bar is pretty high. To be rejected, a person has to have been confined to a hospital or institution.

We don't know how Moore answered the mental health question on his applications, because they are not public record.

Still, it's clear that the police have limited ability to verify the answer. The law directs them to check with the state Department of Mental Health. But that department only has records on public hospitals in Massachusetts. So, if someone applying for a card was committed in another state or got treatment in a private institution, they could sneak through the gun permit system.

It was the Boston Police Department that approved the gun permits for Moore. They didn't want to talk about how Moore got a gun permit if he has a history of mental illness, but when they learned that Moore's attorney requested a psychiatric evaluation, they decided to revoke his gun permit immediately.

This program aired on August 12, 2011.

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