FOXBOROUGH — An Iraq War veteran who had recently been denied a gun license shot and killed his 6-year-old son before killing himself, a tragedy that followed a long history of domestic violence and threats against his family, authorities said Friday.
William F. Scaccia Jr., 49, shot Anthony J. Scaccia at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday at Anthony’s mother’s house, and then shot himself while the child’s grandmother was home, police said Friday. Scaccia also lit gasoline in the house in an attempt to burn it down.
Scaccia had been arrested just four days earlier on weapons charges, but he was released on his own recognizance. He was also facing assault and battery charges.
It’s not clear how Scaccia obtained the gun used in Thursday’s deaths.
Foxborough Police Chief William D. Baker denied Scaccia’s application for a gun license in July. In his decision, Baker pointed out that Scaccia had a restraining order filed against him by Anthony’s mother in 2013 and had lied to police who came to seize his guns at that time.
In her application for a restraining order, Anthony’s mother, Laurie Tolliver, expressed fear for her son’s safety as she and Scaccia argued over child support and visitation. Tolliver wrote in 2013 that Scaccia had repeatedly suggested that “he would kill Anthony and himself” if she did not agree to grant him equal custody.
“‘You don’t know the depths I will go to keep my son,’” Tolliver quoted Scaccia as saying, according to court records. “‘You have not seen how evil I can be.’”
Tolliver also said that Scaccia was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his military service.
“These situations are, unfortunately, pretty common,’’ Baker said at a press conference Friday. “And I would appeal to anyone who has a family member or a neighbor struggling with mental illness . . . to come forward . . . to try and connect people that are on the edge to resources, so we can work together to try and prevent tragedies like this.”
Anthony had just started kindergarten at the Mabelle M. Burrell Elementary School in Foxborough, where teachers and students were in shock Friday, officials said.
A neighbor in Foxborough, Richie Shain, said Anthony’s grandmother suddenly showed up at his door Thursday night, screaming for help and saying there was a fire. Shain said he went over to the house and found the boy.
“I knelt next to him . . . and checked his pulse,” before calling 911, he said Friday. “It’s a scary world that someone can do that to their own kid . . . any kid,” he said.
When he denied Scaccia’s gun license earlier this year, Baker told Scaccia in a letter that he had reviewed Tolliver’s restraining order against him as well as a police report for an argument the couple had in 2016 and found the encounters to be “a troubling reflection on your character and propensity for violence in intimate relationships.”
Scaccia challenged the denial in court, but a Wrentham District Court judge upheld the chief’s decision on Sept. 7, finding that it was based on a credible review of Scaccia’s history. State law gives police chiefs wide latitude to deny gun licenses to applicants they deem “unsuitable.”
Scaccia was described in court papers as an Army veteran who was deployed to Iraq from 2002 to 2003 and again between 2003 and 2004 before he was honorably discharged in 2008, after 22 years of service. He had joined the Army after graduating from Dedham High School in 1986.
Scaccia graduated from Northeastern University in 1996 and later worked at the VA Medical Center, court records show. He also worked on local film sets, rigging lights and other gear.
Although court records do not show that Scaccia had ever been convicted of a crime, they paint a portrait of instability dating back to at least 2013, when Tolliver obtained the restraining order against him.
At the time, Tolliver said that Scaccia was refusing to look at, speak to, or touch Anthony, and was acting as if the boy didn’t exist. She told police that Scaccia owned many guns and had a license to carry a concealed weapon, which he kept with him at all times.
As a result of the restraining order, Scaccia was required to surrender his weapons to police.
But when police went to his house in Norwood, Scaccia told them his guns were in New Hampshire, court records show. The officers then noticed a bulge on Scaccia’s waist. It was a gun holstered on his hip, and police seized it.
As a result, Chief William G. Brooks III of the Norwood Police Department revoked Scaccia’s license to carry in 2013. Scaccia asked Brooks to restore his license but his request was denied, Brooks said Friday.
After Scaccia’s request to the Foxborough police for a gun permit was denied earlier this year, he appeared to become more erratic. Last Saturday, he got into a fight at a party hosted by his girlfriend’s brother-in-law, court papers show.
Scaccia punched the brother-in-law, waved a knife, and threatened the man’s family, yelling, “I’ll kill all of you,” witnesses told police.
On Sunday, Scaccia’s girlfriend broke up with him, according to a police report, and she went to the Foxborough police station, where she asked officers to remove a gun from her house that belonged to Scaccia. Officers seized a .45-caliber handgun and ammunition that Scaccia had stashed in the basement.
Officers then went to Tolliver’s house, where they found Scaccia sleeping in the back of a Jeep. They arrested him and charged him with several gun crimes, including possession of a handgun without a license.
Scaccia was arraigned on the gun charges on Monday and pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors did not ask that Scaccia be held on bail, “based on his lack of defaults’’ —
On Thursday night, police went to Tolliver’s house after a neighbor called 911 to report a medical emergency. There, officers found the bodies of Scaccia and his son, and burning gasoline. Anthony was rushed to Norwood Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
“If I could, I would like to say that the most critical part of this story, in my opinion, is the loss of this innocent life of this child,” Baker said Friday. “Murder-suicide is something that’s all too familiar to many of us.”Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report.