Chapter 1: A Shooting
Inside a Dallas Police interview room, Murray Msewe finds himself trying to figure out how he ended up there.
“Oh my goodness, what did I do?” he cries out, according to a police video obtained by WFAA. “What did I do, man?”
It was July 10, 2021, and he’d just shot Joshua Moore, the 27-year-old autistic man the state paid him to care for in a Dallas group home.
“He was trying to stab me with a fricking knife, man,” Msewe says to himself on the video.
Joshua’s father, Don Moore, remembers getting the call about his son.
“I was in shock when I heard the words,” he recalls. “Murray had shot Josh. We didn't know Josh had passed until we had talked with the chaplain down at the hospital.”
Moore had placed his son in a southeast Dallas group home, expecting him to be safe.
Now, he wanted to know: How did Joshua get a knife in there? And why did Msewe, the caretaker, keep a gun in a group home with vulnerable people?
Moore would soon learn something else: Texas law does not forbid guns in group homes.
“What if Josh had accessed the weapon, just as he did the knife, and shot the caregiver or another resident?” Moore said. “It's very possible that that kind of scenario could have played out.”
Moore reached out to his local lawmaker for help changing the law.
WFAA was there as State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, and his staff met with Moore this past summer.
“The state failed your son,” Turner told him.
“The laws are not there to protect the rights of the individual,” Moore replied.
Turner told Moore he planned to draft legislation what would be called Joshua’s Act to forbid guns in group homes.
“You can't bring a firearm into a hospital, or nursing home, or a number of other types of facilities, and there should not be an exception for these types of long-term care facilities,” Turner said.
Chapter 2: Early years
Joshua Moore grew up in Rowlett.
He had intellectual disabilities and didn’t begin talking until seven. But he was social, and in high school, he joined an all-male cheerleading squad. He loved performing in front of crowds, his father said.
As an adult, Joshua’s mind stayed at the level of about a third-grader. However, he was over six feet tall and weighed between 350 and 400 pounds at any given time.
The older he got, the more he wanted what other men had: a driver’s license, a job and a girlfriend.
“He wanted to learn skills and work and earn an income,” his father said. “But there were things he did not understand. And it would frustrate him."
His father said Joshua became more volatile as the years passed. Eventually, Joshua became too much for his family to handle. He moved Joshua into a group home, where the staff was trained and equipped to handle Joshua’s disability.
It wasn’t long before Joshua became aggressive with his caretakers.
In 2017, a Plano caretaker called 911. He told police that Joshua attacked him and cut his hand with a knife.
“We don’t know when he got the knife or how he obtained it,” Moore said of his son.
Police arrested Joshua on an aggravated assault charge, which was later dropped.
Chapter 3: Behavior Plan
After that incident, Moore had behavior analyst Jeff Parker evaluate Joshua and develop a plan for caretakers. Parker said he met with Joshua several times a week.
“A lot of people would look at Josh and they’d see the behavior,” Parker said. “When I looked at Josh, I saw a human being who had the same wants and needs as the rest of us in this world. He just wanted to meet the right girl, get married, settle down one day and have kids.”
Parker worked on teaching Joshua how to interview for jobs and helped try to reduce incidents of verbal or physical outbursts. But Parker said it was important that caretakers follow the plan.
“I made sure to put in the behavior plan that he should not have access to knives,” Parker said. “Anything sharp at all should be locked up.”
Joshua lived in various group homes while Parker worked with him.
In November 2020, Moore put Joshua in a group home run by Azina Place in Plano.
Azina Place staff members documented the behavioral issues involving Joshua in several incident reports. In one case, a staff member found him eating all the leftovers. She said that she retried to redirect him, but he looked at her and told her he would kill her.
Several months later, in March 2021, Azina Place officials notified Moore that Joshua was being moved to a Dallas group home because of his issues. They also told Moore in an email that they had not been notified that “he had previously punched holes in walls, or attacked staff, or any of the other behavioral concerns we’ve since discovered since he moved in.”
Moore told WFAA that Joshua’s history was disclosed to Azina Place for their safety as well as Joshua’s safety.
“They didn’t take the time to investigate all the needs and demands that would be placed on them,” he said.
Azina Place director Rose Msewe later told state investigators that staff members kept quitting because they were afraid to care for Joshua. So, she asked her son, Murray Msewe, if he could help out and take care of Joshua.
In April 2021, Joshua moved into Azina Place’s southeast Dallas group home. Murray was his caretaker.
“I didn't have any reservations about Murray,” Moore said. “I thought he was a very polite individual, a younger individual and he would interact with Josh well.”
Msewe told state investigators that he read Joshua’s behavior plan and he knew Joshua shouldn’t have access to knives. He signed Azina Place paperwork acknowledging he knew about the restriction. He also said he knew about Joshua’s prior knife incident.
“We are trained to redirect his behaviors and not challenge him because he’s not going to back down,” Murray told a state investigator.
Msewe told police that days after Joshua moved to the group home, Joshua got upset, threw a cereal bowl and flipped over the kitchen table.
“I said, ‘Josh, no you can’t do that,’” Msewe told police. “He said, ‘You can’t tell me that,’ and he shoved me. This actually (was) the day I learned you can’t use the word ‘no.’”
Msewe called the police but said he didn’t want Joshua arrested, so he wasn’t.
“For Josh, the word ‘no’ was a make-it-or-break-it word,” Parker said. “He hated the word ‘no.’”
Chapter 4: More Violence
Three months later, Msewe says Joshua became violent again.
He told investigators Joshua was in a foul mood after having lost his job at a restaurant the day before. During breakfast, “he was just ranting – about his parents, and not having a job anymore,” Msewe said, according to his Dallas police interview video.
Msewe said he accidentally brushed Joshua’s arm.
“He says, ‘Don’t you touch me like that,’” Msewe said. “If you do it next time, I’m gonna hit you.’ … I stated to him, ‘No violent talk.’”
When Msewe used the word “no,” he said Joshua hit him in the face, busted his lip and knocked him to the floor.
“I’m like ‘Josh, you messed up now, buddy, I’m going to call the police,’” Msewe said.
He said Joshua flipped the kitchen table – just as he had done in a previous incident. Then Msewe said he saw the knife in Joshua’s hand.
He said he pleaded with Joshua to put it down.
“He's standing there looking all deranged,” Msewe said.
Msewe told investigators he’d left a knife out in the sink along with other dirty dishes. Msewe said when Joshua blocked his escape from the kitchen, he grabbed his gun from a kitchen drawer.
Msewe told police that when Joshua lunged at him, he shot him.
Msewe told state investigators that right after he shot Joshua, he “kind of reverted back to a child and kept saying, ‘I did not know that you had a gun.’”
Crime scene photos show the bloody aftermath. An autopsy showed Msewe shot Joshua twice – once in the chest and once in the back.
During the interview at police headquarters, a detective notified Msewe that Joshua had died.
“I've never wanted to hurt him,” Msewe told the detective. “He came after me with the knife. What am I supposed to do?”
Records show Msewe initialed a twice daily log indicating he’d locked up sharp objects. On the day of the shooting, he initialed the log.
Msewe’s mother, Rose, told an investigator she didn’t know her son owned a gun. Records show Azina Place put a firearms policy in place within days of Joshua’s death.
Chapter 5: Failed To Provide Training
In his interview with state officials, Parker, the behavior analyst, told investigators that he didn’t think anyone was properly trained in how to carry out Joshua’s behavior support plan. He told officials he twice offered to come train staff but did not receive a reply, according to state records.
Azina Place officials told the state that their nurse conducted training one day with Msewe, and that they thought it was enough.
However, state officials found that Azina Place failed to provide “initial and periodic training” on how to carry out Joshua’s behavior support plan, which resulted in Msewe not being properly trained to take care of Joshua.
“He didn't have the knowledge … to de-escalate that behavior,” Moore said.
Chapter 6: No Crime Committed
A grand jury later cleared Murray, finding he shot Joshua in self-defense.
But a state health and human services investigation found Murray neglected Joshua by allowing him to get a knife and then shooting him with a gun.
Because of a loophole in state law, Msewe can still take care of the disabled while he appeals to the neglect finding.
Rep. Turner’s filing legislation that would allow caretakers to be suspended while they’re under investigation for misconduct or appealing findings of abuse or neglect.
Prior efforts to close or narrow the loophole have failed, but Turner is hopeful this time may be different.
Beth Mitchell, an attorney with Disability Rights Texas, said under current law, nothing flags a potential provider that a caretaker has allegations of abuse or neglect against them. It’s only after an investigation is done, and all appeals have been exhausted, that a caretaker is placed on the state’s employee misconduct registry – a process that could take years.
Neither Murray Msewe nor Azina Place responded to interview requests from WFAA for this story.
Moore said he hopes by speaking out about his son’s death, he can get laws changed and prevent future tragedies.
“The answer is never to take a life,” Moore said. “I can’t answer as to why that became the only option available. Only Murray knows that in his heart when he was there in the moment.”
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