The man who shot and killed five people at a suburban Toronto condominium on Sunday evening had spent years harassing his neighbours and threatening the building’s condo board over a belief that the building’s electrical room was making him sick.
At a news conference on Monday, York region police chief James MacSween identified the gunman in Sunday night’s attack in the city of Vaughn as Francesco Velli.
Police said the 73-year-old resident of the building shot and killed three men and two females and wounded a 66-year-old, who is in hospital.
Villi had been locked in a year-long legal battle with his neighbours in the building, and is alleged to have harassed them.
“Three victims were members of the condominium board,” said MacSween. “Obviously that will be investigated thoroughly,” adding it was “hard to say” if Villi had targeted the victims.
Videos from Villi’s Facebook page, including one posted on the day of the shooting, chronicled his frustration with the building’s management and other residents, and included frequent and unsubstantiated claims that the building’s electrical room was making him sick.
Villi’s obsessions were well-known to residents of the building.
John Santoro, who previously served on the condo board, told reporters that Villi was “not a monster”, and believed the elderly man needed “professional” help.
“I commented to my wife several times [that] it’s going to end very badly,” he said.
Villi had lost several previous legal battles with the condo board, which in 2019 filed for a restraining order against him in response to his harassment of other residents. A court also barred him from posting on social media.
Last year he was found in contempt of court for failing to stop harassing residents, while he also continued to post on Facebook.
In recent months, the company that owns the building had asked a court to jail Villi and force him to sell his unit as a “penalty” for his contempt of the previous court ruling.
In a post on Sunday, Villi called them “murderers” for the legal action against him.
Police arrived at the building around 7.20pm and soon after entering confronted Villi in a hallway. A police officer then shot and killed him.
The special investigation unit (SIU), which probes shootings involving police, said officers found the victims on different floors. Spokesperson Kristy Denette said Villi had a semiautomatic handgun and that investigators did not believe he fired on the officer who killed him. The SIU could not confirm if the gun was legally registered.
Vaughan mayor Steven Del Duca called the shooting a “horrific act” and offered condolences to the families affected.
“I know that we all sincerely hope for a speedy recovery for the individual who was wounded, who we believe is recovering,” he said.
Ontario premier Doug Ford called the attack an act of “senseless violence” and said the province was grieving for the victims.
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