Police say a landlord-tenant dispute is believed to have led to the shooting death of two people at an east Hamilton, Ont. residence.
Investigators say three people are dead following the incident that turned into a standoff late Saturday at a Jones Road home just north of Barton Street East in Stoney Creek.
The two victims, a 28-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman, were found dead by police upon their arrival just after 5:40 p.m. responding to shots fired.
“To my understanding, this was a dispute regarding the condition of the home, and that’s something that we’re continuing to look into to determine the motive,” Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk told Global News. “There was a disagreement in relation to the condition of the home.”
Homicide detectives say the pair, both residents at the address, were fleeing when they were shot and killed on a front lawn.
“Witnesses described a male shooting a female victim,” said Bereziuk.
After the gunfire, nearby streets were closed off by police for a period of time as a 57-year-old suspect had barricaded himself in the home with at least one firearm. That man, the landlord of the address, fired rounds at police and an armoured vehicle.
“Attempts were made to negotiate…negotiators were called in and did make contact with the suspect,” said Bereziuk.
Video evidence, shared by a neighbour, shows an armoured police vehicle communicating with the man and instructing him to leave the home and surrender.
The episode prompted police to ask nearby residents to shelter in place as a precaution.
A neighbour, Sandy Chiasson, received phone calls from police to head downstairs and bunker in their basement.
“It’s nerve-wracking and scary, for sure, seeing the police presence on the street. And then the tactical unit came and that was even more scary ’cause they had all their equipment on,” she said.
Chiasson said just after 10 p.m., she heard a quick succession of gunshots.
“It’s scary, it sounded like fireworks,” she said.
In a social media post around 1 a.m., police said the situation was “contained” with no further risk to the public after the shooter had died after a brief shootout with police.
Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), is now investigating the incident.
“Shortly after 10 pm, there was an exchange of gunfire between the man and a police officer. The man was struck and was pronounced deceased at the scene,” said Monica Hudon, SIU Spokesperson.
The SIU is leading the investigation into the exchange between Hamilton Police and the suspect, but police are still carrying out a homicide investigation.
The Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board (BHNCDSB) confirmed to Global News the female victim was one of their educational assistants, but did not comment on her identity.
“Our prayers are with her family and with all individuals impacted by this tragic situation,” a BHNCDSB spokesperson said in a email.
“Compassionate Care Response Team members are on-site supporting students and staff who are feeling this incredible loss.”
The male victim worked as an electrician in Hamilton, according to Bereziuk.
Police said that neither the victim, nor the suspect, were known to them. All three lived in the same residence, with the tenants living in the basement and the landlord living above them.
Chiasson said she knew the landlord and his mother well. They had been longtime neighbours, and the suspect had been renovating the home on-and-off, and was surprised by what happened on Saturday evening.
“I can’t believe he had registered firearms. He was a quiet man, I never talked to him more than hello,” she said.
Investigators said the landlord was a registered firearms owner and had no prior interactions with police.
Property records obtained by Global News show the home is owned by a man named Terry Gerald Brekka. He purchased the home in 2003 for $115,000 from a woman.
Neighbours told Global News the woman who sold the home to Brekka was his mother.
Police said they have been in contact with the victim’s families– who they say are devastated and stunned by the news. They said the victims were engaged to be married.
— with files from Global News’ Catherine McDonald