(HIALEAH, Fla.) — Seven people are dead in Southern Florida after a gunman went on a rampage Friday night through an apartment complex in the city of Hialeah.
Police are still trying to piece together exactly what happened, but say they first received reports of shots fired in the apartment complex at 6:30 p.m.
Among the six victims – three male and three female – was a married couple who managed the building, Italo and Samira Pisciotti.
Police said the couple had gone to talk to a tenant who had filed a complaint. Moments later, gunshots rang out.
“A neighbor put in a complaint and they went to talk to another neighbor and that’s all we know,” the couple’s daughter, Shamira Pisciotti, told ABC News.
Hialeah Police Sgt. Eddie Rodriguez told ABC News that before authorities arrived, the gunman was walking through the five-story apartment complex firing randomly at people in the building’s hallways and elevators.
Hialeah Police Department spokesman Carl Zogby says 43-year old Pedro Vargas set his apartment on fire, gunned down the building’s two managers, then ran out onto his balcony and killed a man on the street before continuing his rampage.
“The subject then ran out of his apartment, ran down to the third floor, kicked the door open of an apartment, and shot a man, his wife and their 17-year old daughter inside the apartment,” Zogby recounted.
The man who was killed while parking his car was walking his two children into an apartment from a balcony across the street, police said. The man realized that shots were being fired and sprinted toward the front door to get his children to safety. While he was fatally shot, his children were unharmed, Rodriguez said.
Vargas then managed to hold off more than 100 officers and swat teams for up to five hours as they engaged him, both sides exchanging fire
Vargas then took two or three hostages, resulting in a lengthy standoff with authorities. Rodriquez said that about 40 residents remain evacuated, though the entire block was cleared at one point.
Police negotiators tried to talk Vargas down but after a several hours they realized he was most likely not going to surrender quietly. The 8-hour ordeal ended when a SWAT team was finally able to take down Vargas to rescue the hostages.
The SWAT team initially attempted to subdue him with flash grenades, but Zogby said they were forced to shoot him.
“At his last moments he was holding at least two hostages at gun point. SWAT members of the Hialeah Police Department knew there was no more time to negotiate and the gunman was shot and killed by Hialeah police.”
Including Vargas, seven people in total were killed in Hialeah overnight.
Vargas is believed to have acted alone, and are trying to determine a motive. Three of the victims still need to be identified, and officials are working on informing the next of kin.
Residents were allowed back into the buildings at approximately 5 a.m. Saturday morning, with the exception of those with units on the fourth and fifth floors.
“It could have been a much much more dangerous situation,” Zogby said. “This is a terrible tragedy, but the fact is that when we found him, in the investigation, he still had plenty of live rounds of ammunition left with him.”
“The most important part is over,” said Zogby earlier in the day. “The bad guy is down, he’s dead, he cannot hurt anybody anymore.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
David Shortell, CNN Newswire
Jennifer Graham, Deseret News