The Hialeah Police Department on Tuesday released a picture showing two people taken captive inside their Hialeah apartment by a gunman who killed six people Friday.
The picture (above), taken from video by a Miami-Dade police bomb squad robot that entered the apartment, showed Zoeb and Sarrida Nek kneeling on the floor. According to police, Pedro Vargas held them inside their unit after killing six others.
"The robot was used to try to get a picture of what was going on inside [the apartment]. That's why we have that picture of the hostages in their living room," said Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velazquez.
Police attempted to negotiate with Vargas when he took the couple captive, but the talks fell apart and a SWAT team swarmed in, killing Vargas and rescuing both hostages.
"It was difficult because I sent six of my officers in to harm's way, and I knew there was a subject there who was willing to take lives," said Velazquez. "He proved that. He had taken six innocent lives prior to this."
Zoeb and Sarrida Nek took a picture (below) with a SWAT team officer after they were released.
"They were so grateful, they were so happy. It's amazing. It's a great feeling," added Velazquez. "They said, 'You saved our lives.'"
On Friday night, Vargas, 42, set a combustible liquid on fire in his apartment, sending the unit into flames, police said. Building manager Italo Pisciotti and Samira Pisciotti, his wife, went running toward the smoke. Vargas opened his door and shot and killed both of them, Lt. Carl Zogby, a spokesman with the Hialeah Police Department said.
Vargas then went back into his apartment and began firing from his balcony. One of the shots struck and killed Carlos Javier Gavilanes, 33, who neighbors said was returning home from his son's boxing practice.
Vargas then stormed into a third-story apartment, where he shot and killed a family of three: Patricio Simono, 64, Merly Niebles, 51, and Pricilla Perez, her 17-year-old daughter.
Vargas took the two hostages, then was killed.
Who was Pedro Vargas
Neighbors described Vargas as a lonely man who spoke about having pent up anger.
Records from Miami Dade College, where he worked as an instructional support specialist, showed he was fired after downloading 24 files deemed inappropriate during work hours. The college's IT department reported he downloaded a file titled “1000 Hacking Tutorials,” which had chapters on how to kill someone with your bare hands, dynamite, making plastic explosives from bleach, and details on electronic terrorism.
A burial service for Gavilanes was scheduled for Wednesday at Miami Memorial Park. Funeral services for Italo and Samira Pisciotti were scheduled for Thursday at Vista Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home.
Funeral arrangements were still being made for the other three victims.
Donations to the families of the victims can be made to: Survivors Pathway, PO Box 138882, Hialeah, FL 33013