Hialeah (FL)

“a good son” Sets a Fire, Kills 6, Takes 2 Hostages and Dies in Police Shootout

In the final hours, Pedro Vargas, 42, held two people hostage at gunpoint for up to three hours in their apartment until a SWAT team entered and killed him, police said. The hostages were not hurt.

“The crime scene is the whole building,” said Lt. Carl Zogby, a spokesman with the Hialeah Police Department.

Police were called to the aging, five-story apartment building in Hialeah, a working class suburb a few miles northwest of downtown Miami, on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The first calls reported a fire, but when firefighters arrived, they heard shots and immediately notified police, Zogby said.

Vargas, who has no known criminal record, set a combustible liquid on fire in his fourth-floor apartment. Building manager Italo Pisciotti, 79, and his wife, Camira Pisciotti, 69, saw smoke and ran to the unit, Zogby said. When they arrived, Vargas opened the door and fired, killing both.

…After gunning down the building managers, Vargas went back into his burning apartment and fired 10 to 20 shots from a 9mm pistol into the street. One of the bullets struck 33-year-old Carlos Javier Gavilanes, who was parking his car after returning home from work. Zogby said his body was found next to his vehicle.

The gunman then kicked his way into a third-floor apartment, where he shot to death Patricio Simono, 54; his wife Merly Niebles, 51; and their 17-year-old daughter. Family members said Simono worked at a car wash and Niebles cleaned hotel rooms. Their daughter wanted to be a nurse.

All six people were killed in a short time span, Zogby said, and it’s possible they were all dead by the time police arrived.

Officers and Vargas then engaged in an hours-long shootout and chase, with police following the gunman from one floor to the next.

…Several hours into the ordeal, Vargas forced his way into a fifth-story unit and held two people captive. Sgt. Eddie Rodriguez said negotiators and a SWAT team tried talking with him from the other side of the door.

Miriam Valdes, 70, was in a friend’s apartment two doors down. She said she heard officers trying to convince Vargas to surrender.

“Pedro let these people out,” Valdes said officers told him. “We’re going to help you.”

… Rodriguez said the talks eventually “just fell apart.” Officers stormed the building, fatally shooting the gunman in an exchange of gunfire. Zogby said Vargas still had several rounds of ammunition when he was killed.

“He was ready to fight,” Zogby said.

…”He was a good son,” said Ester Lazcano, who lived on the same floor as Vargas and his mother.

Florida Shooting: 7 Dead In Hialeah Apartment Shootout, Including Gunman (VIDEO, PHOTOS). HuffPo Crime, 7/27/2013.

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