Thu, 21 Mar 2019

A 19-year-old woman turned herself in to police on Wednesday to face charges for allegedly throwing two chairs off a 45th story balcony along a busy downtown Toronto street. The incident shown in an online video has sparked widespread outrage.

Det. Todd Higo said Marcella Zoia turned herself in. A widely viewed video shot from the apartment balcony shows a woman throwing one of the chairs, which plummets to the street below.

The chairs landed near the front entrance of the towering condo, but there were no reports of injuries.

After receiving tips from the public, police identified her and asked her to turn herself in.

Zoia is charged with mischief endangering life, mischief endangering property and common nuisance.

Zoia made a brief court appearance on Wednesday afternoon and was released on US$1 508 and ordered to live with her mother. She must also not have any contact with the four individuals that were with her at the time.

"She is embarrassed by what happened. She wished it never happened. Of course, she would never wish anyone would be hurt," said Greg Leslie, her lawyer.

Leslie said she understands the public outage. He said he'll have discussions with the prosecution and said it might not go to trial but said he'll see how it develops.

Leslie said she was under peer pressure and they are looking for the others involved.

Zoia left the courthouse smiling with a Starbucks Frappuccino in hand as she entered an Uber.

Constable David Hopkinson said the apartment was being used as a short-term rental. Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit said the company reached out to Toronto police to offer their full support in their investigation "of any individuals involved with this abhorrent act".

"We remain outraged by the blatant disregard for community safety on display in the video," Breit said. "We have no evidence at this time to suggest that the accused has ever been an Airbnb user, but we have suspended the account of a guest with a reservation at the building pending further review."

Tyler Walton said she believes she rented the same Airbnb unit, suite 4508, on the same day the chairs were thrown. She said she was told by the host to arrive later because the previous renter left a "big mess".

Walton said she saw the chairs outside the front door of the condo building on the sidewalk. She noted the balcony chairs advertised on the website were not on the balcony when she arrived.

The City of Toronto has examined banning shot term rentals not regularly occupied by the owner, but the potential rules are undergoing review.

"I just hope that people take from the example the consequences that will befall this woman. This is irresponsible behaviour that is unacceptable," Toronto Mayor John Tory said. "It was not just a lark gone bad. It was grossly irresponsible behavior that could have caused serious injury and death."

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