Gunman in Canada Condo Killings Was Being Forced Out of Building
A gunman who killed five people on Sunday in a high-rise building outside Toronto where he lived had been ordered to appear in court the next day where the board was seeking to force him to sell his apartment.
The gunman, Francesco Villi, 73, who was armed with a semiautomatic handgun, also injured another tenant during the shooting spree before he was fatally shot by the police.
The violence at the apartment complex, located in the city of Vaughan, about 20 miles north of Toronto, appeared to be the deadly culmination of years of threatening behavior that had led board members to ask the court to have him removed from the building. Three of those killed were board members.
“I know what it looks like, in that it looks like the big bad condo board versus the lonely old man,” said Tony Cutrone, who was elected to the condo board earlier this year.
But the more he learned about Mr. Villi and his behavior, the more concerned he was about how a single tenant could be so disruptive, not just for the board, but for the entire building.
Mr. Villi claimed that his physical and mental well-being were being harmed by a poorly constructed electrical room beneath his first-floor unit.
The building’s management undertook some improvement measures for the room, including installing a new thermostat and adjusting an exhaust fan to make it less noisy, according to Canadian news media reports.
Mr. Villi, however, according to court documents, continued an aggressive campaign against the board, including filing a lawsuit and at times being abusive toward some building employees. Mr. Villi posted multiple rambling videos on Facebook about his dispute with the board.
The situation became so extreme that some workers, including at least two condo managers and two security guards, quit. At least one switched to night shifts in an effort to avoid interacting with Mr. Villi, the court records said.
The condo board was granted a restraining order against Mr. Villi in 2019, directing him to cease all contact with it and to stop filming and recording the building’s employees and management.
Mr. Villi had been facing a fine of nearly 30,000 Canadian dollars for failing to comply with the order and had in recent months “resumed his campaign of harassment,” according to a court motion that was scheduled to be heard on Monday.
A lawyer who had represented Mr. Villi in his disputes with the board did not respond to requests for comment. It was unclear if Mr. Villi had any family.
A judge had dismissed Mr. Villi’s lawsuit, ruling that there was a “complete absence of material facts” in his complaint.
On Tuesday, the authorities identified the five people killed as Rita Camilleri, 57; Naveed Dada, 59; Russell Manock, 75; Helen Manock, 71; and Vittorio Panza, 79. Ms. Camilleri, Mr. Dada and Mr. Manock were condo board members. Mr. Panza was the maternal grandfather of Victor Mete, a defenseman on the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team said in a statement. The Leafs held a moment of silence before their game on Tuesday.
Mr. Cutrone said in an effort to defuse some of the tension that he had given Mr. Villi a box of chocolates. But instead, he said, Mr. Villi threw the chocolates at his 79-year-old mother who lives on a higher floor in the building, in a unit that Mr. Cutrone owns.
On Sunday, Mr. Cutrone, who had not lived in the same building as Mr. Villi, was planning to visit his mother after the World Cup final but changed his mind because of the difficulty of finding visitor parking on weekends.
Mr. Cutrone said heavily armed officers entered his mother’s unit, looking for him and confirming in a phone call that he was a member of the condo board and was safe.
“I am torn between lucky to be alive, but that survivor’s guilt of I feel bad for those who didn’t,” he said. “It’s a tough job, and it’s all volunteer. We don’t get paid to do that.”
Mr. Cutrone said he had offered to help Mr. Villi find space in a long-term care facility and thought he seemed receptive to talking about moving out.
Disputes between tenants and condo associations over building rules tend to be fairly common and can sometimes make serving on boards feel like a thankless task.
Complaints by tenants over issues such as barking dogs and cigarette smoke can quickly escalate if they are not addressed, according to John Burdi, a Vaughan real estate agent who spent more than two decades working in property management.
“I think people really don’t appreciate the dangers that condo boards and property managers face on a daily basis because there’s a lot of heated situations, and homeowners don’t always get what they want,” he said.
“The board and property managers tend to be a punching bag for homeowners that have a lot of different stresses and factors in their life bothering them,” Mr. Burdi added. “You’re dealing with their lives, and the most intimate part of their life is their home.”