FOXBORO (CBS) – Investigators say a father shot and killed his young son inside a Foxboro house, unsuccessfully tried to set the home on fire, then killed himself late Thursday night.
The Norfolk District Attorney’s office is investigating the apparent murder-suicide that took place on East Street.
District Attorney Michael Morrissey said William Scaccia Jr., 49, killed his 6-year-old son Anthony Scaccia, who was found dead from a single gunshot wound.
William Scaccia was also found dead from a single gunshot wound.
Detectives recovered a note from the murder scene.
Gasoline was found spread around an upstairs hallway, but because the fuel was older it was not flammable enough to cause significant damage.
William Scaccia was known to police. He had been arrested on September 16 and illegal possession of a firearm charges were pending from that case.
Police had at least eight interactions with Scaccia and he had a history with a restraining order.
In addition, he had been denied a pistol permit in July. Scaccia appealed that denial, but it was upheld on September 8 in court.
Richard Shain, who lives next door, told reporters he was awoken late Thursday by Anthony’s grandmother knocking at his door, frantically asking for help.
When Shain entered the house, he found the boy’s body at the top of the stairs, covered in blood.
The child’s grandmother put out the fire before it spread.
Investigators say William Scaccia did not live at the home, but had previously. The boy’s mother was at work at the time of the incident.
“The father was very friendly. I never would have thought in a million years anything would happen like that. It’s terrible,” Shain said.
William Scaccia’s sister says the family is devastated, but they are not angry. They say his mental illness played a role in the tragedy.
“He was an amazing father. He got along with Anthony’s mom very well,” Krissy Scaccia said.
“She didn’t feel he was in harm’s way being with Billy. Ever. I don’t think she ever would have had that in her head that this would have happened.”
Krissy said her brother fought a hidden battle with post-traumatic stress disorder after he served in Iraq. She said the father and son were best friends and things have been peaceful in recent years.
“We can’t even understand what happened,” Krissy said. “It’s a nightmare we’re not waking up from.”
Police Chief William Baker said that this was not a case where the system failed to prevent a domestic violence suspect from commuting a violent crime.
“I would resist the temptation to draw the conclusion that the system failed somehow or that restraining orders and legal process associated with these kinds of cases are of no value. I think they’re of great value,” Baker said.
“We would continue to encourage victims to come forward and work with police and prosecutors and victim advocates to try and do everything we can to reasonably defend innocent victims of domestic violence, whether they’re men, women or children. Cooperating with the system helps us do that.”
Foxboro Superintendent of Schools Debbie Spinelli released a statement the incident. Anthony Scaccia was a kindergarten student at Burrell Elementary School.
“Our Foxborough Community was shaken this morning by unbearably tragic news. Our hearts go out to this sweet little boy who was just starting his educational journey and to those who loved and cared for him,” said Spinelli.
Counselors are available at Burrell Elementary on Friday for students and staff, and will remain on hand into next week.
Baker and Morrissey should serve as a caution to residents around the state to be cognizant when it comes to mental health and domestic violence.
“These kinds of situations are unfortunately pretty common,” Baker said. “I would appeal to everyone in the Commonwealth that if you have a family member or neighbor you see struggling with mental illness, struggling with domestic relationships, we urge people to come forward.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karyn Regal reports