ROME — It was an apparent act of vengeance that made national news and emblazoned newspaper front pages as much for the rarity as the brutality of the crime.
“Three women dead, shock in Rome,” read the banner headline in Rome daily newspaper La Repubblica.
The attack took place on Sunday, when a gunman opened fire as a condominium meeting of a vacation housing estate was getting underway in a gazebo outside a bar in a northern suburb of Rome.
Witnesses said that after entering, the gunman, identified by the authorities as 57-year-old Claudio Campiti, closed the door behind him and began shooting.
Mr. Campiti had been engaged in a long-running dispute with officials of the holiday village consortium, the housing estate about 60 miles northeast of Rome, one of the members who witnessed to the shooting said.
“He walked in and yelled out, ‘I will kill you all,’” said the witness, Luciana Ciorba, the vice-president of the consortium, who was taking attendance at Sunday’s meeting. The suspect shot the consortium’s president, wounding her, and killed a board member, secretary and external accountant. After the gunfire began, Ms. Ciorba said she ducked under a table.
The gunman had stolen the weapon, a Glock pistol, earlier Sunday morning from a Rome firing range, investigators said, and the violence stopped only when his gun jammed and he was tackled by one of the more than 20 attendees and disarmed.
Mr. Campiti has been charged with three counts of premeditated homicide and four counts of attempted homicide as well as the unlawful possession of a weapon. Investigators with the carabinieri, Italy’s military police, are looking into how he was able to walk out of a firing range with a gun. On Sunday, investigators shut down the firing range until further notice.
Homicides are relatively rare in Italy, with 319 cases registered between Aug. 1, 2021, and July 31, 2022, according to the Interior Ministry’s annual report on safety and security issued in mid-August.
Although the ministry’s statistics do not say whether guns were involved, the figures are still far less than in the United States, where there were more than 19,000 gun-related deaths in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive, of which about 1,500 were accidental.
Anyone over 18 years of age can own a gun in Italy as long as they have been cleared by the local police. To use the weapon, they must also obtain a firearms license, which requires that they have no criminal record and take a safety course at a firing range.They must also provide a medical certificate verifying that they are psychologically and physically fit.
Even though Italians are estimated to own more than eight million guns, most of them unregistered, it has not suffered from the kind of violence seen in the United States.
“It’s surprising to think that someone could just open fire on people, we’re stunned,” said Elisa Toriella, 38, a lawyer who works in Rome. Mass shootings were not part of the Italian experience, she said, adding that “I hope I’ll never have to get used to such a thing.”
Ms. Ciorba said Mr. Campiti held a longstanding grudge against the consortium. In a vitriolic blog devoted to his grievances against the consortium, Mr. Campiti described it as “hell.”
In the blog, he saidother members of the consortium of engaged in Mafia-like behavior, accusing them of a range of spiteful acts that included defacing his mailbox and turning off the streetlight near his home during the night. Ms. Ciorba said in a telephone interview that the consortium had rejected the accusations and had filed a complaint against Mr. Campiti for defamation because of the blog. The consortium had also made a complaint against Mr. Campiti to judicial officials as well as local carabinieri for “threats,” she said. Investigators said that Mr. Campiti had been denied a gun license on the basis of those complaints to the police.
Mr. Campiti had never finished building his home and had stopped paying various annual fees for at least three years, she said. He had raised a banner over his home that read, “consorzio raus,” “Consortium Out.”
Paolo Leona, 58, who was taking a stroll through a Roman park, said mass shootings were rare in Italy, and that violent crimes usually took place within the family. “That it happened in the public sphere is rare, the public manifestation of a private malaise,” said Mr. Leona, who works as a government consultant. “But then a condominium is a sort of family.”
Tensions are know to run high at condominium meetings because of disputes over parking, use of common land and the subdivision of fees and expenses.
Writing in another Roman daily newspaper, Il Messaggero, the social commentator Gianluca Nicoletti, described condominium meetings as potential “battle fields,” and often “the occasion when everyone is tempted to express the unfailing discomfort of any cohabitation.”
Carabinieri investigators confirmed that Mr. Campiti had his passport, thousands of euros and more than 100 bullets on him when he was arrested.
Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, revealed in a Facebook post that one of the victims was a friend, Nicoletta Golisano, 50. She mourned Ms. Golisano, who had a 10-year-old son, as “a protective mother, a sincere and discreet friend, who was also a strong and also fragile woman.” She said she hoped that “justice would run its course.”
Ms. Ciorba said that Mr. Campiti had stopped coming to condominium meetings some time ago. Until Sunday.
“He opened the door and began shooting, he acted in cold blood,” she said.