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EDITORIAL

The failed system that cost two doctors their lives

A police vehicle patroled near the scene of a double killing in the penthouse of the Macallen Building (center).Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Two systems of checks and balances failed and two doctors died.

Bampumim Teixeira, the suspect charged with the murders of two beloved physicians — Richard Field and Lina Bolaños — in their South Boston condominium, once worked for the company that provided security for the same building. He was apparently able to get work as a security guard even though his picture was posted on the massmostwanted.org website in connection with a 2014 bank robbery.

Teixeira was also allegedly able to return to that building and gain access to his victims after he served time for that August 2014 bank robbery and a subsequent one, in June 2016, because his lawyer was able to negotiate a plea that would prevent the immigrant born in Guinea-Bassau and raised in Cape Verde from losing his green card and being deported.

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Palladion Services LLC said Teixeira was hired in October 2015 and his employment ended in April 2016. The company, which no longer supplies security to the Macallen Building, where the doctors lived, said it performed background and reference checks, which Teixeira passed. It’s true that his employment with Palladion came after the 2014 robbery — for which he was not apprehended — and before the 2016 robbery. Yet, when Teixeira was arrested by police after the 2016 robbery, he confessed to robbing the same bank in 2014 and told police he knew he was wanted because he viewed his picture on the Most Wanted website.

In Massachusetts, security companies are licensed, but individual security guards are not. “The companies do background checks. They veto people with bad records,” said former Boston police commissioner Edward Davis. “But there’s a push and pull between trying to staff a position and doing that. If they can’t put a body there, they don’t make any money.” Yet the Commonwealth sees fit to protect the public by regulating cosmetologists and barbers — and now Uber drivers. Guards and others working for security firms arguably are much more directly linked to public safety and would seem to deserve equal scrutiny.

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After the Globe detailed a pattern of alleged assaults on homeless people by unarmed security guards inside North Station, there was talk on Beacon Hill about strengthening state oversight of private security guards. These senseless murders should revive that discussion.

Teixeira’s ability to avoid deportation also raises serious public safety concerns. With both robberies, he passed notes to bank tellers and threatened to shoot people if he didn’t get the money he demanded. Because he never showed a weapon, the robberies were not prosecuted as a federal crime. Instead, the case was referred to the Suffolk district attorney’s office and ended up in Boston Municipal Court. As reported by the Globe’s Kevin Cullen, the charge was reduced from unarmed robbery to larceny. That way, Teixeira didn’t have a felony or conviction for a crime committed within his first five years of receiving a green card, which would have involved US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Judge Lisa Grant also imposed a sentence one day short of the 365 that could have triggered action to deport him.

Many questions remain about the crime Teixeira is accused of committing, including the underlying legal premise that an unarmed robbery accompanied by violent threats could result only in a charge of larceny. But it appears that after his recent release from jail, he allegedly used his knowledge of the building he was once hired to protect to gain access to his victims. They, too, were immigrants. Bolaños was born in Colombia and Field was born in Britain. They lost their lives to a system that gave all three opportunity, and Teixeira the benefit of the doubt.

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