Police: Suspect's mom may have witnessed shooting

Police say 42-year-old Pedro Vargas killed 6 people at apartment complex

HIALEAH, Fla. - A community is still in shock after a gunman opened fire, killing six innocent people on Friday night.

Investigators are trying to figure out why 42-year-old Pedro Alberto Vargas allegedly shot and killed three men and three women at an apartment building located at 1485 West 46th Street.

Before the shooting, came a fire.

Police say Vargas set fire to $10,000 in cash inside his home, apartment 408. His elderly mother was inside at the time. She narrowly escaped and ran to alert the property managers.

"When he started that fire, his elderly mom -- I'm hearing she's about 82-years-old -- she was in the apartment at that time. Mom tried to stop it, she is struggling with him," said Hialeah Police Detective Carl Zogby. 

When those property managers, an elderly couple, ran toward the emergency, investigators say Vargas shot and killed them.

Vargas then allegedly ran back into his burning apartment and onto his balcony, where he started shooting across West 46th Street.

"Possibly 10 to 20 shots into the streets," said Zogby.

One of those bullets hit a man, who was coming home from work with his 9-year-old son in the car. He heard the shots and shielded his child. The boy survived, his dad did not.

The incident continued from one floor to another and then into apartment 304, where a mom, dad, and their teenage daughter were shot.

The gunfire continued as Vargas made his way onto the 5th floor where he took a man and a woman hostage, using them as human shields.

"He pretty much ran in desperation and kicked the door open and held the hostages, thinking that would protect him. But in the end, that would not protect him," said Zogby.

By this point, at least 100 police officers had surrounded the complex. They spent three hours trying to negotiate a peaceful surrender and when that did not happen, police say SWAT members aimed and fired.

By daybreak, seven bodies were pulled out of the apartment complex.

On Saturday, candles burned bright and late into the night as those in this community embraced, supporting the family and friends who lost loved ones.

"I went up to them. I touched them both," said Shamira Pisciotti, who lost her parents.

Pisciotti says she saw her mom and dad, 68-year-old Samira and 79-year-old Italo Pisciotti, just before they died.

"She saw her mother with no pulse and her father's pulse was very weak," said Carlos Almandoz, Shamira's fiance.

Shamira's fiancé says the couple were the best parents and grandparents.

"They were flawless grandparents. We have two kids and I'll be honest with you, she was out at the store with them today taking them shopping. It's incredible," said Almandoz.

The youngest victim is Priscilla Perez, a 17-year-old, who worked at a furniture store with dreams of becoming a nurse.

She was a student at American Christian School where her principal and others knew her well.

"In four years, she never missed one day at school. She was a perfect attendance student," said Sergio Chavarri, Perez's teacher.

The teen's mom was also killed. Merlis Niebles, 50, worked as a housekeeper.

The fifth victim is 64-year-old Patricio Simono, a maintenance worker.

The sixth victim is 33-year-old Carlos Gavilanes. He shielded his 9-year-old son from the gunfire.

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