February 2, 2023

Money News PH

The Premier Blog Where Money Talks

Gunman in Canada: Gunshots at condominiums expelled from the building

A gunman who killed five people on Sunday in a high-rise building outside of Toronto where he lived was ordered to appear in court the next day, where a panel tried to force him to sell his apartment.

Gunman Francesco Villi, 73, who was armed with a semi-automatic pistol, also injured another tenant during the rampage before he was fatally shot by police.

The violence at the apartment complex in the town of Vaughan, some 20 miles north of Toronto, appeared to be the deadly culmination of years of threatening behavior that had prompted board members to ask the court to remove him from the building. Three of those killed were board members.

“I know what it looks like because it looks like the big bad housing board versus the lonely old man,” said Tony Cutrone, who was elected to the housing board earlier this year.

But the more he learned about Mr Villi and his behavior, the more concerned he became about how a single tenant could be so disruptive, not just to the board but to the building as a whole.

Mr. Villi claimed that his physical and mental wellbeing was affected by a poorly constructed electrical room beneath his first floor unit.

According to Canadian media reports, building management has made some improvements to the room, including installing a new thermostat and adjusting an exhaust fan to make it quieter.

However, Mr Villi continued an aggressive campaign against the board, including filing a lawsuit and at times insulting some building employees, according to court documents. Mr. Villi has posted several rambling videos on Facebook about his dispute with the board.

The situation became so extreme that some workers, including at least two housing managers and two security guards, resigned. At least one worked night shifts to avoid contact with Mr Villi, court documents say.

The condominium board was granted an injunction against Mr Villi in 2019, ordering him to cease all contact with him and to stop filming and recording staff and management of the building.

Mr Villi faced a fine of nearly CA$30,000 for failing to comply with the order and had “resumed his campaign of harassment” in recent months, according to a court filing scheduled to be heard on Monday.

An attorney who had represented Mr. Villi in his disputes with the board did not respond to requests for comment. It was unclear whether Mr Villi had any family.

A judge had dismissed Mr Villi’s complaint, ruling that there was “completely no material fact” in his complaint.

On Tuesday, 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 board members of the condominium. Mr. Panza was the maternal grandfather of Victor Mete, a defenseman with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team said in a statement. The Leafs observed a minute’s silence before Tuesday’s game.

Mr Cutrone, in an effort to relieve some of the tension, said 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 of the building, in a unit owned by Mr Cutrone.

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 it was difficult to find visitor parking at the weekend.

Mr Cutrone said heavily armed officers broke into his mother’s unit, searched for him and made a phone call confirming he was a member of the housing committee and safe.

“I’m torn between the happiness of being alive and the guilt of this survivor. 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 for that.”

Mr Cutrone said he had offered to help Mr Villi find a place in a long-term care facility and thought he seemed willing to talk about moving out.

Disputes between tenants and homeowners associations over building codes are usually quite common and can sometimes make serving on boards feel like a thankless task.

Tenant complaints about issues like barking dogs and cigarette smoke can quickly escalate if left untreated, according to John Burdi, a real estate agent at Vaughan who has worked in property management for more than two decades.

“I think people really don’t appreciate the dangers that housing and property managers face on a daily basis because there are a lot of heated situations and homeowners don’t always get what they want,” he said.

“The board and property management tends to be a punching bag for homeowners who are plagued by many different pressures and factors in their lives,” Mr. Burdi added. “You deal with her life, and the most intimate part of her life is her home.”