'They had such kind souls': Friends, co-workers remember Hamilton couple killed by landlord

Carissa MacDonald and Aaron Stone are pictured with their dog, Max. (Submitted by Victoria Green - image credit)
Carissa MacDonald and Aaron Stone are pictured with their dog, Max. (Submitted by Victoria Green - image credit)

Empathetic, caring and warm.

Those are just some of the words friends and co-workers are using to remember a Hamilton couple shot and killed by their landlord on the weekend.

Carissa MacDonald, 27, and Aaron Stone, 28, died on May 27. Police said MacDonald is from Huntsville, Ont., and Stone from Hamilton.

The landlord, 57, died a few hours later in a shootout with police.

Police have not released the name of the landlord, who neighbours say also lived in the home. Terry Gerald Brekka owned the house, according to property records.

Hamilton police spokesperson Jackie Penman told CBC Hamilton officers are interviewing witnesses, neighbours and 911 callers. Police are also investigating if a dispute about mould in the couple's basement apartment preceded the shooting.

Ontario's police watchdog is also investigating.

Mould issue raised months ago, friend says

Victoria Green, a close friend of the couple, told CBC Hamilton MacDonald and Stone moved into the basement unit roughly five years ago.

She said they previously had a good relationship with their landlord. In past years, for example, the dogs of both the couple and the landlord would play together, she said.

The couple had a dog named Max who was "more like their child" and went "everything with them," Green said.

Submitted by Victoria Green
Submitted by Victoria Green

Green said MacDonald and Stone told her about a mould problem in their unit back in January.

She said "nothing was done" by the landlord and they told her about mould issues again in April.

She said the couple had planned to move out this week and were planning to have a summer wedding.

"[MacDonald] had just picked her dress for their wedding and their eight year anniversary would have been June 7," she said.

Their dream was to eventually move north and buy land, Green said.

Couple loved camping and concerts

Green said she knew both MacDonald and Stone for years through work, camping trips and concerts.

Green said she met MacDonald when they both worked at clothing store Winners, before they both studied child and youth care at Mohawk College and worked together again at the Lynwood Charlton Centre, a youth mental health treatment facility in Hamilton.

They also worked together in 2019 at Camp Tanamakoon, an overnight summer camp for young girls in Algonquin Park.

"She always wanted to go back to work another summer," Green said.

Submitted by Victoria Green
Submitted by Victoria Green

Camp Tanamakoon issued a statement Wednesday saying MacDonald and her brother, Hudson, spent "the early years of their life growing up" at the campground with their mother Susie and father John Daley, the camp's head of maintenance.

"Carissa had a lifetime love for Tanamakoon and returned with her Mom as Kindercamp staff on several occasions," the camp said online.

"Carissa and her mom were last on staff together as a mother-daughter team in June 2019 Kindercamp. The Tanamakoon family sends support and love to Susie and Hudson and all of Carissa's friends and extended family as they navigate the challenging time ahead."

Submitted by Victoria Green
Submitted by Victoria Green

Green said MacDonald's father died when she was young, bringing MacDonald even closer to her bother and mother.

Green added MacDonald and Stone enjoyed listening to artists like Tyler Childers and Eminem, riding dirtbikes and being outdoors.

"Carissa could carry any canoe or kayak above her head, and wouldn't let anyone help her," she said.

Electrician union says Stone was 'universally liked'

MacDonald eventually ended up working as an educational assistant for Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board.

Stone, meanwhile, was an apprentice electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Submitted by Hamilton Police Service
Submitted by Hamilton Police Service

Steve Fox, IBEW Local 105's business manager, called Stone a "cherished member" who was "highly regarded … with immense potential for a promising career."

"The void left by his absence will be profoundly felt throughout our industry, particularly among his fellow brothers and sisters here at IBEW, where he was universally liked and respected," Fox said.

Green said MacDonald and Stone will be remembered for how they treated others, even people they didn't know.

"They had such kind souls that they had a way of making everyone feel important and included wherever they were," she said.