TORONTO (AP) — A suburban Toronto man who was killed by police after authorities say he fatally shot five people in his condominium building, including three members of the condo board, had a court hearing scheduled for the next day to determine if the building’s management could evict him.
Francesco Villi, 73, attacked neighbors on three floors of his building on Sunday night, killing three men and two women and wounding a sixth person, the 66-year-old wife of the board president, who is expected to survive, according to officials. One of the officers who responded to a call about an active shooter inside the building in the suburb of Vaughan shot and killed Villi, authorities said.
York Regional Police identified the slain victims as Rita Camilleri, 57; Vittorio Panza, 79; Russell Manock, 75; Lorraine Manock, 71; and Naveed Dada, 59.
The attack happened the day before a scheduled online court hearing in which lawyers for the condominium corporation were set to argue that it should be allowed to evict Villi because he had spent years harassing building employees, board members and other neighbors. In court documents, the building’s lawyers said Villi ignored court orders to end the harassment and stop posting online about a longstanding dispute he had with the condo’s management.
Villi long claimed in videos posted on social media and in court documents that vibrations, noises and emissions from the building’s electrical room under his unit were making him sick, and that board members and the building’s developer were to blame.
According to court documents, at least two condominium managers quit because of him, and security guards quit or changed shifts to avoid him. Residents also said Villi would swear at them and film them.
“The Condominium submits that a penalty directing Villi to sell and vacate his unit within 90 days of the resolution of this matter is the only meaningful punishment that will serve the dual purposes of a finding of contempt,” lawyers for the building wrote to the court. “While this is an extreme penalty, the Condominium submits that it is proportional to Villi’s offence. He has proven himself to be ungovernable.”
In rambling videos he posted on Facebook in the hours and days leading up the attack, Villi talked about the legal dispute. The posts include recordings of phone conversations he had with lawyers about his case. In one video he posted Sunday, the lawyer for the building noted that the condo corporation had asked him to sell his unit and move out.
The lawyer noted that there was an online court hearing in his case scheduled for Monday and that he needed to go to the condo management office, where the manager would help him log in.
Villi claimed during the call that he wasn’t prepared to present his case at the hearing. He also asked what the board wanted from him, to which the lawyer said it needed him to stop harassing and shouting at people, and to pay the condo corporation’s legal fees. She noted that the case had dragged on for years.
“Tell me what this board of directors want from me so that I can die at peace,” he said during the call with the lawyer. “I cannot take care of myself anymore. What does the board of directors want from me? You tell me, you write it down and I give it to them. I have no energy, no strength to prepare materials or to go to court at this time to defend myself.”
The lawyer responded that an updated bill of costs would be provided and that he needed to agree to stop harassing and recording people. “The corporation is asking you to sell your unit and move out. That’s the request at this point because you are not capable of living in the community and behaving,” the lawyer said.
John Di Nino, who is president of the board, said he thinks the gunman meant to shoot him instead of his wife, but she answered the door.
“I was the likely target, not my wife,” Di Nino said. “But he moved on after shooting her. That’s the thing that is running through my head right now.”
Di Nino said he knew everyone who was shot.
“All of those deceased people are friends of mine,” he said. “They were people who served on the condo board with me.”
Di Nino said Villi had worried the board for a while.
“We were all concerned about his behavior, but no one could have ever imagined this outcome,” he said.
The grandfather of Toronto Maple Leafs’ defenseman Victor Mete was among those killed. Panza was Mete’s maternal grandfather.
Mike Colle, a Toronto city councillor, said Panza had worked on some of his campaigns and they got to know each other.
“He was your proud, hardworking immigrant Italian father and grandfather,” he said.
Camilleri, Manock and Dada were named among several defendants in a court ruling from July that dismissed Villi’s accusations against the condo board members as “frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process.”
Mass shootings are rare in Canada, and Toronto has long prided itself as being one of the world’s safest big cities. Vaughan is just north of Toronto.
“Conflicts of this nature between residents, boards, and management are rare, but are resolved through internal discussion, mediators, and the courts. An escalation of this nature is unheard of and deeply distressing,” said Lyndsey McNally, Board President of the Canadian Condominium Institute’s Toronto chapter, the largest national condo association.