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Woman charged with tossing chairs from Canada high-rise

Rob Gillies
Associated Press
Marcella Zoia, 19, is accused of tossing two chairs off a condo balcony in downtown Toronto.

Toronto – A 19-year-old woman turned herself into police on Wednesday to face charges of 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.

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.

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

Zoia made a brief court appearance Wednesday afternoon and was released on $2,000 Canadian bail (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.

Constable David Hopkinson said the apartment was being used as a short-term rental. Airbnb spokesman 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.”

Jenna Periti, who has known Zoia from the time they attended St. Elizabeth Catholic High School, in Thornhill, Ontario, called her a smart girl and said the video “does not do her justice.” She said Zoia came to Canada from Brazil just before ninth grade and lived with her mom. She said she was with people who didn’t graduate high school and who like to drink rather than go to school.

“She’s a bright girl but sometimes she likes to hang out with people who like to get involved in the wrong things,” Periti said.

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 behavior 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.”