Cleaners enter Hialeah gunman's apartment

Police: Pedro Vargas shot, killed 6 people


Clean-up crews on Monday entered the apartment of a gunman who killed six people Friday.

"More evidence in the apartment of the guy," said Elsa Hernandez.

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More police officers were at the building Monday to keep out trespassers. Rafaela Abreu, a neighbor, said things had returned to normal.

Pedro Vargas, 42, lived on the fourth floor of the apartment complex at 1485 W. 46th Street in Hialeah. Neighbors described Vargas as a lonely man who spoke about having pent up anger.

On Friday night, Vargas set a combustible liquid on fire in his apartment, sending the unit into flames, police said. Building manager Italo Pisciotti and 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 her 17-year-old daughter.

For eight hours, police followed and exchanged gunfire with Vargas throughout the five-story apartment complex as terrified residents took cover in bathrooms and huddled with relatives, sometimes so close to the gunfire they could feel the shots. In the final hours, Vargas took two people captive in a fifth-story unit. Police attempted to negotiate with him, but the talks fell apart and a SWAT team swarmed in, killing Vargas and rescuing both hostages.

Police used a Miami-Dade bomb squad robot to watch what was happening inside the apartment.

The building owner told Local 10 by phone that Pisciotti and his wife worked at the building, which is family run, for decades. He added that Vargas, a long-time tenant, never had any problems at the apartment.

The cleaners didn't find any cash inside the apartment, they said, which Vargas burned before the shooting. He withdrew $10,000, then burned it, according to police.

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