Pedro Vargas set fire to his South Florida apartment, killed 6, and held another 2 hostage at gunpoint for three hours before a SWAT team stormed the complex and fatally shot him Saturday, according to police and witness accounts.
A Florida madman went on a rampage in his apartment complex, killing six innocents, shooting it out with police and holding two people hostage for three hours before cops shot him dead.
Pedro Vargas, 43, began his eight hours of terror early Friday evening by torching the fourth-floor apartment he shared with his mother in the building in Hialeah, just a few miles north of Miami.
Building managers Italo Pisciotti, 79, and his wife, Camira Pisciotti, 69, noticed smoke and ran to Vargas’ residence.
Neighbor Nelson Flores said he witnessed an argument as Pisciotti wanted to call the police — but Vargas insisted he hold off, since he had something to hide.
The feud ended when Vargas whipped out a 9-mm. pistol and shot the Pisciottis dead. “It’s going to give me bad dreams,” Flores said of what he saw.
Police identified 43-year-old Pedro Vargas as the lunatic behind the eight-hour ordeal that started Friday night when he torched his apartment in Hialeah, just a few miles north of Miami.
Married building managers Italo and Camira Pisciotti noticed smoke and ran to Vargas’ residence.
Neighbor Nelson Flores said he witnessed an argument that started after Italo Pisciotti, 78, wanted to call the police — but Vargas insisted he hold off, since he had something to hide.
“Mr. Pisciotti wanted to call police and the gunman didn’t, because he was living there illegally with his mother under Section 8 (housing laws),” Flores told the Daily News.
Vargas then shot the couple, Flores and police said.
“I have never seen anything like this before, and I know it’s going to give me bad dreams,” Flores added.
After shooting the managers, whose 9-year-old granddaughter was waiting in the family apartment police said , Vargas ran back into his burning unit and opened fire from a balcony — killing Carlos Gavilanes, 33, who was parking his car after returning from work.
Gavilanes’ body was found next to the vehicle.
The crazed gunman then barged into a third-floor apartment and unloaded on a helpless family of three.
Killed were Patricia Simono, 54; his wife Merly Niebles, 51; and their 17-year-old daughter, Priscila Perez, whose body was found in the bathtub.
More than 100 police officers arrived at the scene after receiving a call at 6:30 p.m. Friday, setting in motion an hours-long gun battle.
Vargas traded shots with the officers during a frightening chase, with cops following the gunman from one floor to the next.
“He kept running from us as he fired at us and we fired at him,” said Lt. Carl Zogby, a Hialeah Police Department spokesman.
Vargas eventually barricaded himself in an apartment where he held two hostages at gunpoint for three hours.
Negotiators tried speaking to Vargas from the other side of the door — but the talks “just fell apart,” said police.
“He was speaking Spanglish and not making any sense so it was impossible,” Zogby told the Daily News. “We offered food and drinks but he wouldn’t accept it.”
Cops used a small robot-mounted camera, which showed the hostages pleading for their lives on their knees.
A witness said the gunman asked for his girlfriend and his mother, but refused to cooperate.
The officers finally threw tear gas over the apartment’s balcony and stormed through the door, fatally shooting Vargas in an exchange of gunfire.
The hostages, identified as Zoeb and Sarrida Nek, were shaken up but not hurt.
“Our procedure is that we don’t wait, we enter and engage,” said police spokesman Carl Zogby. “We believe that it was our pursuing him that made him run for cover and barricade himself in that apartment, and kept him from killing more people.”
Police recovered a 9-mm. pistol and several rounds of ammo. They don’t yet have a motive.
Other victims discovered include married couple Merly Niebles and Patricia Simono, and their 19-year-old daughter, Priscilla Perez, who were killed when Vargas kicked in their door and opened fire.
One of Perez’s grieving co-workers at Lyn’s Furniture store said he had a bad feeling when she didn’t show up at their usual breakfast before work.
“She was so sweet and kind,” said the co-worker, who declined to give his name. “She was studying and working at the same time. It’s so sad.”