Published December 19, 2022

Condo gunman used semi automatic handgun in Vaughan shooting that left five dead

A source close to the investigation has identified the suspected gunman as Francesco Villi

By Fakiha Baig in Vaughan

A gunman suspected of killing five people in his condo building used a semi-automatic handgun on victims who were found in multiple units on different floors, Ontario's police watchdog said Monday. 

A spokeswoman for the Special Investigations Unit said the suspected gunman was a 73-year-old resident of the condo building in Vaughan, Ont.

"My understanding of what took place is that there were multiple deceased located on several floors," spokeswoman Kristy Denette said during a news conference outside the condo building where the Sunday night shooting took place. 

A source close to the investigation, who was not authorized to speak publicly, has identified the suspected gunman as Francesco Villi. 

A man by the same name had a long-standing dispute with his condo board, court documents indicate. 

Villi filed a lawsuit against six directors and officers of the board in 2020. He alleged the board members "committed acts of crime and criminality from 2010 onwards."

Villi alleged the directors had deliberately caused him five years of "torment" and "torture" related to alleged issues with the electrical room below his unit, court documents said.

Justice Joseph Di Luca tossed the case this summer, calling it "frivolous" and "vexatious."

Court documents show the board sought a restraining order in 2018 against Villi for his "allegedly threatening, abusive, intimidating and harassing behaviour" towards the board, property management, workers and residents.

Police responded to reports of an active shooter around 7:30 p.m. Sunday and were met at the Vaughan condo with a "horrendous scene," Chief Jim MacSween said in a late-night news conference. Five people were found dead in the building and a sixth was taken to hospital.

Building resident John Santoro said he opened the door of his unit Sunday night to see a pair of officers armed with rifles by the elevators.

"I did hear a commotion in the corridor," he said, adding that police were going floor to floor as they responded to the shooting.

Santoro said the building was soon surrounded by police and emergency vehicles.

"The ambulances started rolling in ... I saw body bags coming out, being loaded into ambulances, he said. "We knew it was something very big."

About 15 police cars and a large forensic identification truck remained outside the highrise Monday morning. The main entrance to the building was taped off.

"It's just shocking to be honest," said Jordan Bennett, a building resident who went out to get food Sunday night and returned to find a heavy police presence at the building.

"I feel pretty safe here so I'm pretty shocked to hear something like this happened."

Speaking to reporters Monday morning, Vaughan Mayor Steven Del Duca called the shooting a "horrific act" and offered condolences to the victims' families.

"I know that we all sincerely hope for a speedy recovery for the individual who was wounded, who we believe is recovering," Del Duca said.

"And I want to thank all of our brave first responders for the work that they did yesterday to secure what I know must have been a very difficult situation."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also expressed his shock at what happened.

"All of Ontario is thinking of the victims of this senseless violence and the family and friends grieving their loss," he wrote on Twitter.

Police said their investigation is active and ongoing, while the SIU said six investigators, including two in forensics, have been assigned to probe the police response.

- with files from Liam Casey and Jordan Omstead in Toronto. 

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

Banner image via The Canadian Press

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