Community members, including a local school board and the mayor, are mourning the loss of a local couple, two days after police say their landlord shot and killed them outside their Stoney Creek home.
Carissa MacDonald, 27, and Aaron Stone, 28, are the names of the couple who died, CBC News has learned.
CBC News confirmed the identities of the victims through family members and employers who declined to comment on the record.
The couple were engaged and lived at 322 Jones Rd., police said. The house sits in a quiet area north of Barton Street in Stoney Creek.
Stone was an apprentice electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, according to his Facebook page. MacDonald worked at the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board for the past three-and-a-half years and was a Mohawk College graduate, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Police investigating if mould complaint related to killing
The 57-year-old landlord died after a standoff with police ended in “an exchange of gunfire” with a police officer, according to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), a police oversight body.
Hamilton police say a dispute between the landlord and tenants before the shootings may have been related to a complaint about mould in the rental unit.
Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk told CBC News on Monday the tenants complained about the issue sometime before their landlord shot them as they tried to flee the house on May 27.
“That’s what we’re investigating to see if that’s in fact what this was about,” he said.
“I think the big question is why did this happen, a lot of people want to know that. We may never be able to answer that.”
School board describes ‘incredible loss’
In a statement to CBC News, Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board confirmed one of their educational assistants had died.
“Our prayers are with her family and with all individuals impacted by this tragic situation,” said board spokesperson Tracey Austin.
Families and staff have been informed of the “incredible loss,” Austin said.
Hamilton’s mayor, Andrea Horwath, expressed condolences and concern about the shooting.
“I was very saddened to hear about this senseless tragedy over the weekend, and my heart goes out to the families of the victims,” she said in a statement.
Neighbour describes landlord as ‘bad news’
Police have not released the name of the landlord, who neighbours say also lived in the home.
Terry Gerald Brekka owned the house, according to property records. He bought it in 2003 for $115,000.
Next-door neighbour Tony Greenly said the landlord was “bad news” and would stand on top of his roof, watching them. This “harassment” drove Greenly to build a carport to block the view, he said.
“It’s like we couldn’t breathe in our own backyard,” Greenly told CBC News on Monday.
Greenly’s wife Joanne said she was home at the time of the shootings and laid on the floor as several rounds of gunfire erupted nearby.
“I was terrified,” she said. “That could’ve been us. He could’ve gotten mad enough to actually get them [the shotguns] out.
“I feel sorry for the young couple — so young.”
Bereziuk told reporters Sunday morning the tenants were “fleeing the residence” when they were shot by the landlord and described them as “truly innocent victims.”
In a phone interview with The Canadian Press, Bereziuk said police are trying to determine how things escalated.
“It’s a perfect storm of tragedy in this case because you can’t predict something like this and you can’t prevent it,” he said.
“Because nobody was on our radar, at least for the Hamilton police. It makes it difficult to understand how things can [happen], certainly with respect to a landlord-tenant dispute.”
The Landlord and Tenant Board said no applications concerning the property had been filed in the last two years.
The city’s bylaw division said it hadn’t received any complaints related to 322 Jones Rd. in recent years.
ACORN Hamilton, a tenant advocacy group, also told CBC Hamilton they did not know the tenants nor were they informed of any issues at the address.