Toronto ‘mansion party’ shooting victim sues Airbnb and owner

A 19-year-old who was gunned down at a Toronto “mansion party” at an Airbnb rental is now suing the alleged company, owner and organizers of the event.

“It was like someone had just stabbed me something,” said Sean McCann, recalling the moment he was hit by gunshots. “It was a sting and a burn, then just a lot of pain.”

McCann attended the party in West Toronto on April 26 after a friend of his saw a social media coverage advertisement for the event, which was hosted in a mansion in Etobicoke.

He and his friends had just finished the school year at Humber College and were looking to let off steam.

Shortly after arriving, McCann said he was starting to feel uncomfortable; his group decided to leave less than an hour later.

“People were smoking around the house, throwing beer cans and stuff. They were just ransacking the house and it was disgusting,” McCann said.

“People were fighting and pushing each other and it didn’t look great. I saw a person with a knife and that’s when we said, ‘You know what, let’s go. ‘”, did he declare.

The house in the West End of Toronto was listed on Airbnb. It was largely unfurnished. Neighbors continued to complain about loud parties for months after the shooting. (Jason Ho / CBC)

McCann said it took a while for him and his friends to make their way through the crowded house. But then they spotted a friend in the garden and went to say hello.

Once outside, they heard gunshots.

“I only counted until I got hit, which was about four. But everyone I spoke to said there were at least six after,” McCann said.

The bullet entered the lower back, fractured the pelvis and exited through the groin, causing nerve damage and extensive blood loss, McCann said.

People were running to escape from the rear; McCann’s friends helped him get over the fence and down a retaining wall.

Prior to the shooting, police had already been called to the scene due to a noise complaint. They quickly found McCann, who was rushed to hospital. He woke up there with his parents by his bedside.

“The doctors said if it had been an inch to the left I would have been paralyzed, and an inch to the right they said I would probably be dead. And two inches down or something like that, j ‘would have lost the use of my right leg, “McCann said.” I was very lucky … and I’m just grateful for it. “

McCann does not appear to have been the intended target.

A lawsuit for negligence

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Ontario Superior Court, McCann alleges the shooting was the direct result of negligence on the part of Airbnb, the owner and the party organizers.

He is claiming $ 5 million in damages.

In a statement, McCann alleges that Airbnb “failed to conduct an investigation, screening and background check” of the person renting the property and the guest who booked it.

He also alleges that the owner of the building, Wojciech Stasieczek, failed to screen his guests, “knew or should have known that the tenants of the premises were using his minimally furnished rental property to organize large parties” and that he “left the possibility for violence and crime to occur.

The advertisement for the event called it a party in a mansion and mentioned “enhanced security.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the purported organizers of the party – Isabella Ibrahim and two people identified only as Jane Doe and John Doe – “allowed violence and crime to occur” due to “a lack of security and guest background check “.

When asked to comment on the lawsuit, Airbnb responded with a statement.

“The senseless violence reported has no place in the Airbnb community and we immediately removed the booking guest from our platform in April,” he said. “While this listing has not been available on the Airbnb platform since September, hosting is a big responsibility and if we find that the hosting business is significantly disrupting a community, we may take action against an ad, including suspension or removal. “

Neither Stasieczek nor Ibrahim responded to repeated requests for comment.

After the shooting, the Toronto police chief tweeted that officers had arrested two teenage boys carrying guns. But no one has been charged yet. The Toronto Police Service says the investigation into the shooting remains active and open.

The April 26 event was not the first time this particular house has been rented out for parties.

McCann’s statement alleges that “the premises have been used for parties and large gatherings” on several occasions. Several neighbors also told CBC News that the boisterous parties continued long after the spring shooting.

According to 311 files, there have been three complaints regarding the property in the past year. The most recent arrived at the end of August.

Violent incidents in Airbnb rentals

In the past year, there have been at least 10 violent incidents related to Airbnb rentals in Canada.

Earlier this year, Airbnb announced plans to ban so-called “party houses” from its platform after an Oct. 31 shooting in Orinda, Calif. Left five people dead. Almost 100 guests were crammed into a rental house that had been advertised for 12.

Starting next month, Airbnb will expand screening in its North American market for what it calls “high-risk bookings.” This opinion “Will help identify suspicious bookings and stop unauthorized parties before they start,” he said.

But McCann says the company should have acted sooner than this Halloween incident.

“It’s too little, too late. Like, I survived, but a lot of people didn’t,” he said. “They have to do something to make up for everything they ignored, and I think what happened in California on October 31st shouldn’t have been the time when they had to say, ‘OK, let’s stop this. . ”

“It must stop.”

Canadian cities are changing Airbnb rules

Cities across Canada are grappling with complaints about short-term rentals available through platforms like Airbnb.

In April 2018, Vancouver introduced new rules requiring all people who rent out their homes and condos on a short-term basis to register with the city. He says 80 percent of Vancouver’s short-term rentals are now licensed and there has been a dramatic drop in complaints.

Last week, an Ontario appeal body voted in favor of new regulations for Toronto that will see short-term rentals only allowed in a host’s primary residence, licenses required for all operators and limits imposed on the rental period of a space.

This week, Ottawa City Council followed Toronto’s lead and gave the green light to a similar set of rules for short-term rental companies.

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