5 killed in shooting at Canadian condo building, police say
Officers fatally shot the gunman, who had been in a long-running dispute with members of the board.
VAUGHAN, Ontario — A gunman opened fire at a high-rise condominium building outside Toronto, killing five people and injuring a sixth Sunday. The gunman had been in a long-running dispute with members of the condo board.
The suspect, whom police identified as Francesco Villi, 73, was shot and killed by a police officer on the third floor of the building, the police said at a news conference Monday afternoon. The five people killed had been residents of the building, and three of them were current board members, according to the police. They did not disclose the victims’ names.
On Monday, the police were still trying to identify a motive for the killings, which occurred in Vaughan, a city of about 340,000 about 20 miles north of downtown Toronto that is a major shopping destination and home to Canada’s largest amusement park.
But court records show that Villi had blamed board members for health problems he believed stemmed from what he claimed was a poorly constructed electrical room below his unit.
In a recent lawsuit he filed against the board, Villi, representing himself, sought millions of dollars in damages against six defendants he accused of “deliberately causing harm, stress physically, mentally, financially, confusion inability to rest and sleep for over 5 years, torment, torture.”
The board, according to the lawsuit, had previously sought a restraining order against him for abusive behavior and harassment. A judge dismissed Villi’s lawsuit, ruling that there was a “complete absence of material facts” in the complaint.
Villi carried out the shootings with a semi-automatic handgun, according to authorities. It was not clear whether he had legally purchased the weapon.
The killings were a rare episode of a mass shooting in Canada, where gun laws are much more restrictive than those in the United States. Gun violence and mass shootings are less common in Canada than in the U.S.
The last major mass shooting in Toronto — a 2018 attack in the city’s Greektown neighborhood in which a man with a handgun opened fire on a busy street, killing two people and injuring 13 others — shook residents there, as it came on the heels of a rash of violence across the city.
“We realize a crime of this magnitude is traumatizing for friends and family who at this time of year, especially, now must deal with the tragic death of their loved ones,” Chief Jim MacSween of the York Regional Police said at the news conference Monday afternoon.
Located in a bustling area of Vaughan, the condo building is in a relatively upscale complex with two other high-rises, and has a gated entrance monitored by security. It includes penthouse suites and a two-bedroom unit currently listed for nearly 1 million Canadian dollars.
The shootings unfolded in three units, MacSween said. Three men and two women died, and a sixth person, a 66-year-old woman, was seriously injured and is recovering in a hospital, he said.
The Ontario Federation of Labour, in a statement, identified the injured woman as Doreen DiNino, the partner of John DiNino, a transit union president who is a member of the condo’s board of directors and was named as a defendant in Villi’s lawsuit.
In 2018, the board sought restraining orders against Villi, accusing him of menacing other residents and people involved in managing the building. He was found in contempt of those orders in September 2021 after again making contact with the individuals he was forbidden from speaking with.
Although three of the victims were members of the condominium board, MacSween said “the motive for the shooting remains part of this very complicated and very fluid investigation.”
Five firetrucks were dispatched to the building just after 7 p.m. Sunday, responding to an alarm that had gone off, according to the Vaughan Fire and Rescue service. The police were called about the same time.
Jack Rozdilsky, a resident of the building who lives on a high floor, said he made his way down the stairs after hearing the fire alarm. He left the building to run errands and said he had no idea that the shootings had taken place.
When the police began allowing residents to return home Monday morning, he said, the path back through the lobby entailed “walking through portions of the crime scene.” A small pool of blood marked off by an orange traffic cone was visible on the pavement outside the lobby.
“I’ll just say I saw some things that I can’t unsee,” said Rozdilsky, an associate professor of disaster and emergency management at York University in Toronto.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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