SWAT officers shot and killed a suspect after he killed six people in an apartment building in Hialeah, just a few miles north of Miami, ending an hours-long standoff early Saturday, Hialeah Police said.
Hialeah police spokesman Sgt. Eddie Rodriguez told NBC News that two people were rescued alive from an apartment building where they were being held hostage.
“This is one of the worst shootings we’ve probably had ever in Hialeah," police spokesman Carl Zogby said.
Police said earlier that the suspect was confined to a particular area of the building at 1485 W. 46th St. Negotiators were talking with the suspect, and police sent a robot into the scene, police said.
Gunman, Pedro Vargas, 43
Police had first received 911 calls at about 6:30 p.m., and found an active shooter in the building, Zogby said.
But after police discovered that six people were dead, and that the man had two hostages in an apartment, the SWAT unit decided there was no more time to negotiate, Zogby said.
About eight hours after the situation began, a SWAT team found the gunman barricaded on the fourth floor of the building, where they killed him and saved the two hostages.
"The end result: seven people have lost their lives in this incident, six innocent victims and the one shooter," Zogby said. "Now starts the investigation, how and why this happened.”
Zogby said the hostages were not hurt, and he did not believe that any officers were injured.
Three of the victims were men and three were women. Shamira Pisciotti identified two of them as her parents and building managers, Italo and Samira Pisciotti. She said she heard the shots, ran over to her parents in the building, and found her mother dead and her father clinging to life.
"I guess there was an altercation and the person opened fire on both of them. My mom was dead the moment that she was shot and my dad still had a pulse when I got to him," Shamira Pisciotti said.
He died soon after, she said.
The building managers were found dead in a hallway and three others, two females and one male, were found in one of the apartments, Hialeah police spokesman Sgt. Eddie Rodriguez told NBC News.
Agustin Hernandez and Alberto Martinez confirmed three of the victims were their sister-in-law Palis Merlis Niebles, her husband Patricio and her teenage daughter Priscilla Perez. Hernandez and Martinez, who are married to Niebles' sisters, said Patricio was a handyman at the apartment complex and worked with the building managers.
Another man was found dead in the lobby of a building across the street.
Shamira Pisciotti said she believed that there was a complaint about the shooter and that he confronted her parents about it, and that he then shot them.
She said she heard about 15 to 20 gunshots. Several other witnesses said they heard between 10 and 12 shots.
Dozens of people were evacuated from their homes, and a couple of streets in the area were shut down.
Claribel Dominguez said she believes she was one of the last people to see her friend Samina Pisciotti alive. She shared that news with Pisciotti's grieving family.
“But I was just with her mom before it happened, like 15 or 20 minutes ago before it happened we were at Kmart,” Dominguez said.
She said that she heard several shots from inside the store, a few blocks away from the scene.
She got a call from Shamira Pisciotti, who told her that her parents had been shot and killed.
"And I still don't believe it," Dominguez said.
Police were investigating the motive behind the killings and were still identifying those who were killed, according to NBC News.