Published December 19, 2022

Alleged Toronto-area condo shooter believed board conspired to murder him: docs

Court documents involving a man with the same name, who lived at the building where the shooting took place, indicate a long dispute with the condo board

By Jordan Omstead and Liam Casey

A 73-year-old man suspected of gunning down five people at a condominium north of Toronto had a lengthy history of threatening members of the building's board and believed they had a conspiracy to "systematically murder" him, court documents and online posts indicate.

York Regional Police said Francesco Villi killed three condo board members and two others at a Vaughan, Ont., highrise on Sunday night while a sixth shooting victim – the wife of a board member – remained in hospital with serious injuries.

Villi shot the victims in three different units in the building before an officer shot and killed him, police said. 

Court documents involving a man with the same name, who lived at the building where the shooting took place, indicate a long dispute with the condo board. 

Villi lived on the first floor of the building, in unit 104, court documents show. 

He was set to return to court Monday as the board sought to have a judge find him in contempt for violating a previous order to not contact the board, to stop threatening its members and building staff and to cease posting about them on social media.

The condominium wanted Villi gone – it sought a penalty from court to force him to sell and vacate his unit within 90 days, a factum filed in court by the condominium corporation last month said.

Villi never made it to court. 

Just hours before the Sunday shooting, a man by the same name posted a video to Facebook. In it, the man identified himself as Francesco Villi, listed the address of the building where the shooting took place and said that he was a resident there.

The video shows Villi calling a member of the condo board a “monster" and alleging building owners, condo board members, lawyers and judges were conspiring against him.

During the 16-minute video, glasses perched on his nose, he said everyone is "working to destroy me." 

"I will never become one (of) you – liars, demons – never," he said.

There were about two dozen posts to the page since the start of December, many featuring videos of the same man talking about his battle with the condo board. In another video, posted Friday, he said he lives in "Hitler’s dungeon" and claimed "energy from hydroelectricity" was killing him. Court documents have said his unit was above an electrical room. 

Another post shows an image of what appears to be a doctor's note that reads Villi has a "chronic obstructive lung disease."

Villi said he worked as a home builder for 40 years and immigrated to Canada from Italy with his mother when he was 17.

John Santoro, a resident of the building who said he knew the man, said Villi was a retired building developer who had been in a "long-brewing" dispute with the condo board.

"I think he was someone who was failed by the system," said Santoro outside the condominium on Monday. "For it to get to this level, I don't understand."

In 2018, the condominium corporation took Villi to court seeking an order to have him cease his "threatening, abusive, intimidating and harassing behaviour towards the board members, property management, workers and residents," legal documents show. 

The board also wanted Villi to stop video and audio recording the board members and staff and stop posting those videos to his Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

Villi countersued and sought damages for $1 million. 

In 2019, Justice Paul Perell ordered Villi to not make video or audio recordings of the board's members, management, residents or employees. The judge also ordered Villi to remove social media posts and not make new posts about the court matter and to only communicate with the board by email or letter.

Villi failed to comply with the court order and the condominium moved to have him held in contempt in September 2021. A judge found he breached the order by speaking to staff members in an "aggressive and sometimes threatening manner." 

Villi was set to move on to the penalty phase of the contempt proceedings in April 2022, but the condominium withdrew the hearing after he complied for a few months.

But that didn't last. 

Villi allegedly breached the order again soon after, court documents show. The condominium alleged Villi approached and harassed security guards. They said the building lost security guards because of his behaviour.

On April 19, Villi posted a video about one of the board members. 

"The video also says condominium directors are trying to 'systematically murder' Villi in his home by electricity from the electrical room below," the condominium said in court filings.

Villi posted on Facebook on April 20 saying "if I Francesco Villi die these people are totally and solely responsible for my death." 

He called out several board members by name in his posts, blaming them for his ill health. In July, he called one resident a "demon and the devil" and a man a "fat pig."

A number of the residents filed a joint complaint to the condominium about him.

In July, court heard six board members' application to have Villi's lawsuit tossed, saying it was frivolous and vexatious. 

A judge agreed.

"Mr. Villi believes that the electrical room which sits beneath his unit is improperly constructed, resulting in the emission of electromagnetic waves which have caused him significant pain and suffering over the years," Justice Joseph Di Luca wrote in his August decision.

"Mr. Villi believes that the board members of the corporation have actively engaged in efforts to intentionally harm him, likely at the behest of the powerful developer who built the condominium."

Police said Monday that the motive for the shooting was part of their "very complicated and very fluid investigation."

Banner image: Francesco Villi is shown in this image taken from a recent video and posted on his personal Facebook page on Dec. 19, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Facebook, Francesco Villi

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 19, 2022. 

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