Condo board members among five victims in Vaughan shooting, police say
The Canadian PressNews active shooter condo property management
By Fakiha Baig in Vaughan
Three of the five people killed in a shooting at a Toronto-area highrise were members of the condo board, police said Monday as authorities identified the suspected gunman as a 73-year-old building resident who used a semi-automatic handgun on his victims.
The shooting took place at an upscale condo in Vaughan, Ont., on Sunday night, with the alleged gunman – identified as Francesco Villi – killing three men and two women before being shot dead by police. A 66-year-old woman was also shot and remained in hospital Monday.
York Regional Police Chief Jim MacSween called it a “tragic shooting.”
“The motive for the shooting remains part of this very complicated and very fluid investigation, which is still ongoing at this time,” he said.
Court documents indicate a man with the same name as the alleged gunman had a long-standing dispute with his condo board.
Villi filed a lawsuit against six directors and officers of the board in 2020, alleging the board members “committed acts of crime and criminality from 2010 onwards.” He further alleged the directors had caused him five years of “torment” and “torture” related to alleged issues with the electrical room below his unit.
Justice Joseph Di Luca tossed the case this summer, calling it “frivolous” and “vexatious.”
Court documents also show the board sought a restraining order in 2018 against Villi for his “allegedly threatening, abusive, intimidating and harassing behaviour” towards the board, property management, workers and residents.
John DiNino, a condominium board member named in the court documents, told The Canadian Press his wife, Doreen, had been shot at the building on Sunday and was undergoing emergency surgery in hospital on Monday.
“It’s so overwhelming right now,” he said. “We’re just hoping and praying.”
Police said they were not yet able to release the identities of the five people killed.
A Facebook page for a man named Francesco Villi had a video posted online hours before the Sunday shooting. In it, a man identifies himself, lists the address of the building where the shooting took place and says that he is a resident of the condo.
The video also shows the man calling a member of the condo board a “monster” and alleging building owners, condo board members, lawyers and judges are conspiring against him.
“Everybody are working to destroy me,” he said during the 16-minute video, glasses perched on his nose. “I will never become one of you – liars, demons – never.”
A heavy police presence remained at the building on Monday, with 15 cruisers and a large forensic identification truck parked outside the highrise in the morning. The main entrance to the building was taped off.
Building resident John Santoro said he had opened the door of his unit Sunday night to see a pair of officers armed with rifles by the elevators.
“I did hear a commotion in the corridor,” he said, adding that police were going floor to floor as they responded to the shooting. Santoro said the building was soon surrounded by police and emergency vehicles.
“The ambulances started rolling in … I saw body bags coming out, being loaded into ambulances,” he said. “We knew it was something very big.”
Another building resident said he was still processing what happened.
“It’s just shocking to be honest,” said Jordan Bennett, who went out to get food Sunday night and returned to find a heavy police presence at the building.
“I feel pretty safe here so I’m pretty shocked to hear something like this happened.”
Police said their officers responded to an “active shooter” call a little after 7:20 p.m. on Sunday and found what the force’s chief called a “horrific scene.”
Officers tracked the suspect to the third floor, where Ontario’s police watchdog said an officer shot the suspect.
The Special Investigations Unit said the gunman was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after 8 p.m. A semi-automatic handgun was recovered at the scene, the SIU said.
Police said they could not comment on whether the suspected gunman was a registered firearms owner.
Vaughan Mayor Steven Del Duca called the shooting a “horrific act” and offered condolences to the victims’ families.
“I know that we all sincerely hope for a speedy recovery for the individual who was wounded, who we believe is recovering,” Del Duca said on Monday.
“And I want to thank all of our brave first responders for the work that they did yesterday to secure what I know must have been a very difficult situation.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford also expressed his shock at what happened.
“All of Ontario is thinking of the victims of this senseless violence and the family and friends grieving their loss,” he wrote on Twitter.
– with files from Liam Casey and Jordan Omstead in Toronto.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 19, 2022.
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