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Survivor of Vaughan mass shooting points to gap in victim support

'Very stark need ... for psychological first aid' to cope with trauma didn't occur in timely way, says condo resident calling for better support of people impacted by mass shootings
Jack Rozdilsky (bottom right) presents to the York Regional Police Services Board.

A resident of the Vaughan condo where a mass shooting occurred last December says there was a gap in the services provided to survivors and other residents of the building. 

Jack Rozdilsky, a resident of the condo at 9235 Jane St. and a York University professor who specializes in emergency management, spoke to the York Regional Police Services Board today, Feb. 22. 

He said he is a survivor of the mass shooting as he was in the building Dec. 18 when 73-year-old Francesco Villi killed five residents and injured one other

He told the board that York Regional Police and victim services could have done more to support the survivors. 

“There was a very stark need that existed for psychological first aid for many persons, including myself, to cope with the shock and trauma due to exposure with mass violence and the timing of the services did not match with the need that existed onsite,” he said. 

Rozdilsky said the first meeting for survivors with victim services wasn't until Dec. 29, 11 days after the shooting.

Last week, on Feb. 16, York Regional Police and the City of Vaughan held another community meeting with condo residents to discuss the shooting and while Rozdilsky said he appreciated the police's participation, he questioned why it took so long for these meetings to be held. 

“I believe there is a gap in services provided concerning the transition from response to recovery with mass shootings in York Region,” he said. 

Chief Jim MacSween said Rozdilksy played a key leadership role in the meeting that was held and he thanked him for his comments. He also offered his condolences to not just the families of the victims but to everyone traumatized by the shooting. 

“There’s a lot of work going on not only in our organization but provincially to discuss how victims are supported after these large-scale events, which obviously we’re not immune to,” he said. 

MacSween said this issue is on their radar and something YRP takes very seriously. 

Rozdilsky called on the board to learn from this incident and build upon this experience when it comes to supporting victims and survivors. 

Board member Walter Perchal, who said he is a professional colleague of Rozdilsky, thanked him for his input. 

"I think there’s important lessons to be learned," he said. "I believe we stand to be well served by some of the comments he has directed to us and some of the resources he can offer us." 

The shooter at the Vaughan condo was fatally shot by a responding police officer at the scene Dec. 18. The SIU investigation into this shooting is ongoing. 

Elizabeth Keith

About the Author: Elizabeth Keith

Elizabeth Keith is a general assignment reporter. She graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2017. Elizabeth is passionate about telling local stories and creating community.
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