Police may have motive in Hialeah massacre

Attorney: Pedro Vargas deposed days before shooting

Author: Ben Candea, Senior Web Producer, bcandea@local10.com
Published On: Jul 31 2013 05:09:49 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 01 2013 01:51:50 PM EDT
Pedro Vargas Shooter Hialeah Apartment Building Shooting Spree Hialeah Shooting
HIALEAH, Fla. -

Investigators believe they may have a motive that led Pedro Vargas to kill six people during a mass shooting at his apartment complex Friday.

On Tuesday July 23 -- three days before the shootings -- Angel Castillo Jr. deposed Vargas in lawsuit filed by Bullet Line, LLC against Yahoo! Inc.

Special coverage: Hialeah massacre

Vargas worked in the art department of Bullet Line during a temporary assignment from May 5 until October 7, 2012. Westaff employed him at the time and loaned him to Bullet Line.

"We strongly feel that it is connected due that it's the most serious event that occurred in his life during that week, so everything is pointing in that direction," said Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velazquez.

Bullet Line filed the lawsuit to discover who was sending abusive emails and text messages to several employees and customers using made-up sender names, beginning in Oct. 2012. Attorneys had identified Vargas as a potential author of the messages, and he Prior to was served with his deposition subpoena.

Read: Bullet Line, LLC vs. Yahoo! Inc.

During the deposition Tuesday, Vargas initially denied sending the messages, then admitted he had "made a mistake," Castillo said. Vargas said he used computers at the John F. Kennedy Library in Hialeah to send the messages.

About four hours after the deposition, Vargas sent an email to a representative of Bullet Line, apologizing for the messages.

"I feel I owe you a personal apology for my insensitive comments, disrespectful and deceiving mail," Vargas wrote. "I accept full responsibility for what happened. The main reason, I believe it is, I was sad to stop seeing you guys, enjoying lunch in your company and not been able to participate at the new place. Don't believe me, but I am pouring tears right now."

Read: Vargas' email

During a meeting at Bullet Line, the email was shared with those employees, Castillo said.

About 3 p.m. Friday, Castillo said Vargas showed up at his Kendall office without an appointment. Castillo wasn't there at the time, and Vargas refused to tell office staff why he was there.

Vargas didn't threaten anyone nor did he appear to have been carrying a gun, Castillo said.

"My personal impression, which I kept to myself during the deposition, was that Mr. Vargas was a sad and lonely man leading a difficult life," Castillo told Local 10.

On Wednesday, police released a 911 call made by Vargas before he went to Castillo's office. Vargas told the dispatcher in Spanish that he was being "targeted" and an attorney -- who he had met with regarding a previous employer -- was "casting spells" on him.

His mother told the 911 dispatcher that her son needed a psychological evaluation, something she didn't tell police Friday.

"That evening, when we were doing our negotiations, we had reached out to family members and during that, there was no indication of any mental illness history," said Velazquez.

The shooting

On Friday night, Vargas, 42, set an undisclosed amount of cash 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. A burial for the couple was held Thursday.

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 was buried Wednesday.

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 before he was shot and killed by SWAT team members, who later spoke about the ordeal.