The Canadian man accused of murdering 5 people had a feud with the housing authority

TORONTO– A 73-year-old man who had a long-running dispute with his housing manager in a suburb above Toronto killed five people, including three board members, after he claimed in court and on social media that the building’s electrical room was making him ill.

York Regional Police Chief James MacSween identified the suspect in Sunday night’s attack in Vaughan, Ontario as Francesco Villi. He said at a news conference on Monday that Villi fatally shot three men and two women and injured a 66-year-old woman who is in hospital and is expected to survive.

“Three of the victims were members of the Housing Committee,” he said.

Police said officers were called to an active shootout at the building around 7:20 p.m. Sunday and an officer fatally shot Villi inside the building where Villi and the victims lived.

Villi has long claimed that vibrations and emissions from the building’s electrical room made him ill and that board members and the building’s developer were to blame, court documents show.

MacSween said police are still investigating the motive for the attack, which occurred in three different units of the building.

Special Investigation Unit spokeswoman Kristy Denette said police found the victims on different floors. She said that Villi had a semi-automatic pistol and that investigators do not believe he exchanged gunfire with the officer who killed him.

On Sunday and in the days leading up to the attack, Villi posted rambling videos on Facebook discussing a legal battle with the housing authority.

In the videos, he claimed to have health problems caused by the building’s electrical room. The posts include recordings of phone conversations he had with attorneys about his case. In a video he released Sunday, the building’s attorney noted that the condominium company had asked him to sell his unit and move out.

“This tragedy is driving me insane. I’m sick anyway,” he said.

The attorney noted that an online court hearing in his case was scheduled for Monday and that he would have to go to the condominium management office where the manager would help him log in.

Villi claimed during the call that he was unwilling to present his case at the hearing. He also asked what the board wanted from him, to which the attorney said he needed to stop harassing and yelling at people and pay the condominium’s legal fees. She noted that the case had dragged on for years.

“Can I die in peace? (It was) seven years of torture,” said Villi.

In a video, he said: “They want me dead. You can take this body, but never this soul. .. I am ready to die.”

Villi had filed a lawsuit against six directors and board members in 2020, alleging they had “committed criminal and criminal acts since 2010”.

He also accused them of intentionally inflicting him five years of “torment” and “torture” related to problems he was having with the electrical room beneath his unit, court documents show. Judge Joseph Di Luca dismissed the lawsuit this summer, calling it “frivolous” and “infuriating.”

According to court documents, in 2018 the board sought an injunction against Villi for his “allegedly threatening, abusive, intimidating and harassing conduct” toward the board, property management, workers and residents.

Resident John Santoro said Monday that he knew Villi had a firearms certificate, but did not know if Villi actually owned a gun. He said he was also aware of Villi’s problems with housing management.

“I know the story and I know the man. I know the board. I know this has been brewing for a long time. And I’ve told my wife several times that this is going to end very badly,” Santoro said.

“It’s tragic because I think he was let down by the courts. He was let down by the lawyers and he was let down by the housing association because if you leave his social media you will clearly see that this man needed professional help.”

Santoro, a former board member, said the condominium company put pads on the electric room units to keep them from sitting directly on the concrete when vibrated.

“He wasn’t a monster,” Santoro said. “He was very religious and very generous. I just think he got into a situation that ended very badly for everyone.”

Mass shootings are rare in Canada, and Toronto has long prided itself on being one of the safest major cities in the world. Vaughan is north of Toronto.

Canadians are nervous about anything that might indicate they are approaching the gun violence situation in the US, where mass shootings are commonplace.

“Everyone is appalled,” Vaughan Mayor Steven Del Duca said. “To wake up to this news this morning or to see it last night we are absolutely shocked. … This is something I never thought I would see here.”


This story was first published on December 19th. It was updated on December 20 to correct the spelling of the alleged attacker’s last name. His name was Francesco Villi, not Velli.

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