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A landlord in Hamilton, Ontario gunned down a young couple that was renting from him on Saturday evening, before being killed by police himself. Little is known about the argument that preceded the tragedy, though it was reportedly over the condition of the basement apartment the couple rented.
But that did not stop at least one person lobbying for landlords from framing it as a sign of the unfortunate plight of… landlords. In a now-deleted tweet, Varun Sriskanda wrote “Landlords taking matters into their own hands is not something I encourage. But this is what happens when we don’t have a functioning tribunal.” Sriskanda, whose bio says he is a realtor and lawyer who advocates for “the rights of housing providers in Canada,” serves as a board member for Small Ownership Landlord of Ontario (SOLO) a group that recently hosted a pro-landlord protest asking for faster non-payment evictions.
Sriskanda’s tweet was immediately ratioed—a screenshot shows the tweet had 398 quote tweets and 117 likes—and he subsequently deleted the tweet and issued an apology. “I previously released a tweet in regards to a tragic situation in Hamilton, Ontario which saw 3 lives lost. The tweet was insensitive, careless and failed to account for the gravity of the situation. I sincerely apologize for my poorly chosen words,” Sriskanda wrote in a tweet thread that distanced his comment from his work at SOLO.In another tweet, he continued, “I often tweet on a variety of issues and topics that interest me. My tweets will always be my own and in no way, shape or form is a reflection or the position of any other person or organization.”
Sriskanda told Press Progress that his reference to a “functioning tribunal” in his deleted tweet was meant to suggest that landlords have to wait too long to evict their tenants due to an ongoing backlog of eviction filings, which was also the subject of last month’s landlord protest.In a statement to Press Progress, SOLO said, “Our deepest condolences go out to all those that were affected by the tragic events that unfolded in Stoney Creek over the weekend. Loved ones will need time to grieve. The community will need time to make sense of what has unfolded. Law enforcement will need time to do their investigation to determine what exactly happened here.” A member of SOLO declined to tell Press Progress whether Sriskanda had stepped down. At the time of writing, he is still listed as being a board member on SOLO’s website.There have been multiple shootings in the U.S. over the past few months connected to tenant disputes. In early May, a Brooklyn tenant was shot by a state trooper carrying out an eviction filing after wielding a knife and implying he wanted the troopers to kill him. He was airlifted to a hospital and is in stable condition. In Seattle, a tenant died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after exchanging gunfire with three deputies who had arrived to evict her. The tenant, who was involved with local activism, had fallen behind on rent during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Seattle Times.Police have not released the names of the couple killed in Hamilton. The couple, who were 27 and 28, were engaged. The man worked as an electrician and the woman worked as an educational assistant at a local elementary school. Neighbors speaking to press did not note any knowledge of disagreements with the landlord prior to the killings.