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Three of 5 people killed in Vaughan, Ont. were members of condo board, police say

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Three of the five people fatally gunned down in a mass shooting at a Vaughan, Ont. condo building Sunday night were members of the condo board, police say.

“Three victims were members of the condominium board. But the motive for the shooting remains part of this very complicated and very fluid investigation, which is still ongoing at this time,” York Regional Police Chief Jim MacSween said.

He said three of the victims who died were men and two were women. A 66-year-old woman was also shot, but survived. She was seriously injured and remains in hospital.

MacSween confirmed the identity of the 73-year-old shooter as Francesco Villi.

Multiple residents have told CP24 that the suspected gunman was involved in some sort of dispute with the condo board at the building.

Police are executing “multiple” search warrants in connection with the killings and continue to interview witnesses.

“Until that's complete, we can't rule anything out,” MacSween said. “But rest assured, detectives in the Homicide Bureau are working diligently to find the answers in this horrible incident.”

He said the officer who fatally shot the gunman is a 24-year veteran of York Regional Police and said he “very likely saved lives by his actions last night.”

Police investigate the scene of a fatal shooting in Vaughan, Ont. where six people were left dead. (Corey Baird/CTV News Toronto)

All the victims were residents of the building, MacSween said, but police are not yet identifying them.

However the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents 35,000 transit workers in Canada, confirmed that the wife of the group’s president, John Di Nino, was injured in the shooting. Di Nino is listed on publicly available documents as a member of the condo board.

In a brief statement, Di Nino referred to the “terrible events yesterday in Vaughan” and said that it is a “a very difficult time for my family.”

He asked for privacy and said he has no further comments for the time being.

 

OFFICERS ON-SCENE WITHIN MINUTES

MacSween said officers were called to the building at 9325 Jane St., just north of Rutherford Road, for an active shooter incident at 7:20 p.m. and arrived at the building within three minutes and 20 seconds to discover a “horrendous scene.”

Officers responding to the mass shooting found multiple people dead on several floors of the building before the gunman was shot dead by an officer in a hallway, Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit said in a separate update Monday.

The gunman was pronounced dead at around 8 p.m., about 40 minutes after police were called, SIU Spokesperson Kristy Denette told reporters.

“My understanding of what took place was there was multiple deceased located on several floors,” Denette said.

The shooter targeted three separate units in the building, MacSween confirmed.

“The man was a resident in the building and the man was using a semiautomatic handgun,” Denette said.

She said a single officer discharged their firearm multiple times, fatally injuring the 73-year-old gunman.

The shooter’s weapon has been recovered from the scene, but Denette could not say whether or not the gun was legally purchased.

“I don't have any information as far as any potential criminal history of the man who was killed,” Denette said.

The SIU is an arm’s length provincial agency which investigates anytime police are involved in a death, serious injury, or allegations of sexual assault.

Denette said that they are looking into the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of the gunman by police, but it will be up to York Regional Police (YRP) to provide further details about the murder of the five other individuals.

York Regional Police tactical officers attend the scene of a shooting in Vaughan, Ont., Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. Police say multiple people are dead, including the suspect, after a shooting in an apartment building. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey

The SIU has assigned four investigators and two forensic investigators to the case. One subject officer has been designated so far.

An autopsy is set to take place Tuesday.

YRP remained at the scene Monday, including members of the force’s emergency response unit, who “conducted a thorough search of the building to ensure there are no additional victims and that it’s safe,” YRP said in a release. Forensic identification officers are also on hand.

Members of YRP’s emergency response unit were also on hand Sunday evening to assist in clearing the buildings in the residential complex.

In a tweet posted at 1:18 a.m., police said the residents of those evacuated buildings “are now able to return to their homes.”

“We thank you for your patience and understanding while we worked to ensure safety and preserve evidence,” the force said.

VAUGHAN COMMUNITY ‘IN ABSOLUTE SHOCK’

Vaughan Mayor Steven Del Duca spoke with reporters at the scene Monday and said his community is “horrified” after the mass shooting.

“It's just unspeakable to imagine that this has taken place here in our community,” Del Duca told reporters Monday morning. He said flags would fly at half-mast at all city buildings today.

He offered few details about the incident, but urged the community not to “speculate” about the tragedy.

“I would urge everyone to wait until York Regional Police has concluded their investigation and they provide their updates before we speculate,” he said.

Del Duca offered condolences to the families of the victims for the “unspeakable” incident. He said he also spoke with Chief MacSween to express his support for the officers.

“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,” Del Duca said.

One man who lives at the building told CP24 he spent the night elsewhere after returning home Sunday to find the building sealed off with police tape. He said he’s lived at the building for four years and ‘nothing” like this has happened before.

“It’s getting crazier every day, you know,” said the man, who identified himself as Abdul.

In a tweet, Ontario Premier Doug Ford also expressed his condolences for the families of the victims.

“I’m shocked and saddened by the tragic shooting in Vaughan last night,” Ford wrote. “All of Ontario is thinking of the victims of this senseless violence and the family and friends grieving their loss. Thank you to our first responders for bravely being on scene.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also commented on the mass killing, offering his conolences.

“To the families and friends of the victims of yesterday’s shooting in Vaughan: I’m keeping you in my thoughts. To the person who was injured: I’m wishing you a fast and full recovery,” Trudeau wrote. “And to the first responders: Thank you for your hard work and your professionalism.”

Anyone who saw what happened or anyone with photos or video surveillance, cell phone video, or dashcam footage of the shooting is being urged to contact the SIU's lead investigators at 1-800-787-8529 or https://siu.on.ca/en/appeals.php.

YRP said anyone with information about the shooting is being asked to contact the York Regional Police homicide unit at 1-288-876-5423, ext. 7865 or homicide@yrp.ca, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or www.1800222tips.com.

- With files from The Canadian Press

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