A shooting at a Toronto Airbnb that left three men dead Friday night has led to renewed calls for action aimed at cracking down on the short-term rental units.
According to police, three men were shot and killed at a condo building on Queens Wharf Road at Fort York Boulevard, east of Bathurst Street. Officers were called there just after 10:20 p.m. for reports of gunshots.
A fourth victim was rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds while a fifth person was treated for a cut, police said.
Acting Det. Sgt. Henri Marsman told reporters the victims were at the building attending a party at a unit that was rented out using Airbnb.
Marsman said the shooting happened on the 32nd floor of the building.
Police said the shooting occurred within the condo unit and the adjacent hallway.
“We’re not looking for any suspects right now,” Marsman said.
Police later said it’s believed the “shooters involved” were deceased.
The three men who were killed were identified as Jalen Colley, 21, and Joshua Gibson-Skeir, 20, of Brampton as well as Tyronne Noseworthy, 19, of Toronto.
Marsman would not say if any of the victims were known to police.
The shooting is one of several violent incidents at Airbnbs in the Toronto area over the past year, with another shooting incident being reported at an Airbnb in Toronto as recently as mid-December.
A Toronto man launched a lawsuit against Airbnb after being shot at a rental house on April 27, 2019 in Etobicoke. In York Region, an 18-year-old man was shot and killed at an Airbnb rental that was being used to host a prom party.
City Councillor Joe Cressy spoke to reporters Saturday morning at the scene of the most recent shooting and called for action aimed at targeting so-called “ghost hotels” in the city.
“The City of Toronto, over the course of two years, developed very clear bylaws around Airbnbs and the rules state the following: that only people can use their primary residence as an Airbnb,” Cressy said.
It is not clear, however, if the Airbnb unit where the shooting occurred is someone’s primary residence.
Still, Cressy said action should be taken against owners who are buying units and solely using them for Airbnbs.
“What we see are people buying up three, four, five, ten units and using them as ghost hotels, often as party suites,” he said.
“That’s not appropriate. It’s not safe and far too often it’s resulting in tragedies like these.”
City officials told Global News in December they were only responding to issues with regards to Airbnbs and bylaws on a complaint basis.
In a letter addressed to residents of the building and posted on social media Saturday, property management at the building where the shooting occurred said while condo owners there have mixed opinions over short-term rentals, a new rule will be sent out within the next week limiting the number of rentals under three months in length.
Airbnb responded to the shooting in a statement to Global News and said the booking guest has since been banned from their platform.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred in Toronto last night and our thoughts are with all who have been impacted — including the victims and their loved ones as well as the neighbouring residents,” the statement said.
“We are in close coordination with Toronto Police Services to offer our full support of their investigation into this senseless gun violence. We have zero tolerance for this type of behaviour, and we ban both party houses and unauthorized parties on our platform.”
Airbnb said no previous incidents were reported at that unit, but the listing has been suspended pending the investigation.
Airbnb has previously taken steps to crack down on unauthorized parties on rental units.
Following a shooting that left five people dead near San Francisco last year, the company’s CEO said they would “get rid of abusive host and guest conduct” through several measures, including additional guest screening and the threat of removal from the app when rowdy parties are reported.
Fairbnb, an advocacy group which calls for a crackdown on short-term rentals, released a statement Saturday saying, “Too many lives have been claimed in unsupervised ‘ghost hotels.'”
“Airbnb can show it takes the lives of guests and neighbours seriously by following Toronto’s regulations, de-listing ‘ghost hotels,’ and ending its support for hosts’ appeals,” spokesperson Thorben Wieditz said in a statement.
Friday night’s shooting came just days after GTA officials gathered in Toronto for a meeting aimed at finding solutions to combat gun violence in the region.
– With files from Matthew Bingley