Pedro Vargas, 43, set his apartment on fire on Friday evening and went on a killing spree that left seven dead including himself.
Vargas lived in an apartment complex in Hialeah, Florida. The population in that community is approximately 230,000 and about 75 percent is Cuban or Cuban America.
Italo Pisciotti (78) and his wife, Samira Pisciotti (68) were property managers at the apartment complex where Vargas began his killing spree. When they noticed smoke coming from his apartment, they went to check on him, he shot and killed them both.
“I heard about 15 to 20 shots, and so I went outside, and my neighbors were screaming that my parents have been shot,” Shamira Pisciotti said.
After killing both property managers, he re-entered his burning apartment, went out to the balcony, fired 15 to 20 more shots, killing his third victim, according to police spokesman Carl Zogby.
Vargas moved from floor to floor killing three more residents before taking two people hostage in one of the apartments.
The police received a call at 6:30 Friday regarding a disturbance in the five story apartment building in Hialeah, a suburb two miles North Miami. The incident lasted about eight hours with the hostage standoff lasting about three according to Zogby.
Ester Lazcano, a resident of the building, lives two doors from where the shooting started, and reported being in the shower when she heard the initial shots and then a dozen followed.
Another resident, Miriam Valdes, 70, lives on the upper floor and when she heard the shots and saw the smoke she ran into a neighboring apartment.
A crisis team was on the scene and attempted to talk to him according to Sgt Eddie Rodriguez.
Witnesses reported that at one point he asked for his girlfriend and his mother, but refused to cooperate.
Rodriguez said when talks fell apart the SWAT team stormed the apartment fatally wounding Vargas in an exchange of gunfire. The hostages were not harmed.
Once the hostage situation ended, police found a trail of carnage left by Vargas. Besides the property managers, and the man he shot from his balcony, Vargas killed three residents in another unit, a male and two females.
Zulima Niebles reported she was informed by police that the three victims found dead in the other unit were her family members. She identified them as her sister, Merly Sophia Niebles, and her sister’s husband and her sister’s daughter Priscila Perez, 16.
Priscila Perez attended the American Christian School and in the fall she would have been a senior, the director of the school Marcela Chavarri reported.
“She was a lovely girl,” Chavarri said. “She was always happy and helping her classmates.”
The shooting spree left a total of seven peopled dead including the gunman. According to a recent report the incident may have been sparked by a disagreement between the tenant and the property managers. Witnesses reported that the tenant may have been facing eviction. The gunman lived with his mother in the complex.
By: Veverly Ewards