A 73-year-old man killed five neighbors in a shooting at a residential building in the suburbs of Toronto, police said Monday, after a reported long-standing feud with the condo board.
The suspect, identified by authorities as Francesco Villi, lived at the condominium building in Vaughan, Ontario, and appeared to have targeted members of its board.
Of the five deceased victims from the Sunday evening attack, three were adult males and two were women.
“All of the victims resided in the condo building,” police chief Jim MacSween told a news conference.
“Three were members of the condominium board,” he said, adding that the motive behind the killings was still being investigated.
A sixth victim — a 66-year-old woman — was seriously injured and remains in hospital, but her life is not in danger, MacSween said, describing the crime scene as “heartbreaking.”
The daily Toronto Star, citing sources close to the investigation, said Villi had clashed with the condo board, which in turn accused him of “threatening, abusive, intimidating and harassing behavior.”
In a recent lawsuit dismissed as frivolous, he reportedly made several wild and unsubstantiated allegations including that an electrical room beneath his unit was emitting “electromagnetic waves which have caused him significant pain and suffering over the years.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a Twitter message that friends and families of the victims are in his thoughts and wished the injured woman a swift recovery.
Police were called to the site about 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Toronto on Sunday evening.
MacSween said “officers arrived to find a horrific scene with five deceased victims having been shot and killed in three separate units.”
One of several officers responding to the emergency call opened fire on the shooter in a third floor hallway of the building, killing him, he said.
– ‘Horrible tragedy’ –
Kristy Denette, a spokeswoman for Ontario’s Special Investigative Unit, which is called in to investigate whenever an officer discharges a firearm, said earlier that the victims had been found on several different floors.
The suspect was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene, and a semi-automatic handgun was recovered by police, she said.
Vaughan mayor Steven Del Duca said Monday morning that it was an “unspeakable” and “horrible tragedy.”
“People are just in absolute shock,” he said. “This is something that I never thought I would see here… especially just a few days before Christmas (and) at the start of Hanukkah.”
While it suffers far fewer mass shootings than its American neighbor, Canada has experienced an upsurge in gun violence, which has prompted it to recently legislate to ban handguns.
In April 2020, a gunman disguised as a policeman killed 22 people in the eastern province of Nova Scotia, Canada’s worst mass shooting.
In September this year, a man killed 11 people and stabbed 18 others, mainly in an isolated Indigenous community in Saskatchewan province.
Firearms-related violent crimes account for less than three percent of all violent crimes in Canada — but since 2009 the per capita rate of guns being fired with intent to kill or wound has increased fivefold.
Canada banned 1,500 types of military-grade or assault-style firearms in May 2020, days after the Nova Scotia shooting.
Parliament is considering adding many more weapons to its prohibited weapons list, but the ruling Liberals have faced pushback from hunters and sports shooters.