Shooter's family left him, hid

Thu, August 26, 2004

NEIGHBOURS OF Tony Brookes can't believe the "gentle" man shot at and pistol-whipped his estranged wife in a downtown food court and then took a hostage at gunpoint at Union Station before being killed by a police sharpshooter. "He was a normal man and very soft-spoken. He wasn't a psycho. They seemed like a very normal family," said Brookes' neighbour Michelle Johnston.

"He was quiet and respectful. I can't believe this has happened. I took an early GO Train into work today. Otherwise I would have been there when it happened."


Brookes, 45, and his estranged wife Marlene, who works for a dry-cleaning company, were in the middle of divorce proceedings launched after she and their two children -- a 19-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy -- left him on March 13, CFTO reported last night.

The day they left, Tony was charged with assault, assault with a weapon and uttering threats for throwing Marlene down a flight of stairs, holding a knife to her throat and threatening to kill her, according to CFTO.

In the past, he also gave his daughter a black eye and stormed around Ajax with a fireplace poker looking for his son, the station reported.


He was convicted in May on the assault charges and served time in jail, but was soon released under a number of conditions, including one that said he wasn't allowed to possess weapons.

He had lived in the family's Ajax home on his own since his Marlene and the children moved to a secret location in Etobicoke just before summer.

Brookes' neighbours say they never saw any trouble and police were never at the house. "I never saw them argue. If anything went wrong, it was hidden from the public," said Brookes' neighbour, Karl Peters.

"We were shocked to hear of the violence. I don't think it's true."

Brookes worked for The Bay for 23 years, but was laid off in 2001. Since then, he delivered papers for The Globe and Mail and worked as a chef.

Durham police spent two hours combing Brookes' home yesterday morning.