Neighbors Leave Memorials and Recover After Deadly Hialeah Shooting

Candles still burned near flowers, balloons, bears and messages for the six people gunned down at the building Friday night.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Video shows the inside of gunman Pedro Vargas' Hialeah apartment. Vargas first set fire to an undisclosed amount of cash in his apartment, then went on to shoot and kill six before being killed by SWAT officials.

    Three days after a shooting left seven dead in Hialeah, NBC 6 has learned more about the shooter, Pedro Vargas.

    According to Alex Perez, owner of the Florida Gun Center, Vargas legally bought a gun there three years ago in October 2010. It was a Glock 17 Gen4, he said.

    VIDEO: Watch video of inside Pedro Vargas' apartment.

    Police haven't confirmed if that's the gun Vargas used to kill six people, hold two others hostage and fire at police before being killed by SWAT team members during a violent standoff at an apartment complex on West 46th Street.

    Friends Pay Tribute to Man Slain by Hialeah Shooter on Friday

    [MI] Friends Pay Tribute to Man Slain by Hialeah Shooter on Friday
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    Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez says he has the same questions that everybody has.

    "What was he thinking of, what was the motive, why would you do this? And that adds to this frustration, this sadness," Hernandez said.

    VIDEO: Police Search for Motives as New Details Emerge on Hialeah Shooting

    That frustration continues to grow, as do the memorials remembering those who lost their lives in the shooting — among them Italo Pisciotti, 79, and Samira Pisciotti, 69, the husband and wife who managed the building where Vargas lived with his 83-year-old mother for the last 12 years.

    Neighbor Wilfredo Riberon says he saw Vargas every day and that he was cordial. Others say he regularly exercised at the L.A. Fitness Gym in Hialeah.

    No one can explain what would make him start a fire, setting $10,000 cash ablaze, then massacring the elderly couple before killing neighbor 17-year-old Priscilla Perez, her mother Merly Niebles and stepfather Patricio Simono.

    At the scene of the crime, Yorda Martin showed up before noon Monday in the parking lot on West 46th Street with 50 doves in crates in honor of those killed, while across the street others began a second memorial in the spot where the last victim died. Carlos Gavilanes, 33, was killed when he was coming home with his 9-year-old son.

    "Carlos was my best friend. He loved his kids. Loved his family. Really outgoing guy," said Alicia Martin.

    Martin has known Gavilanes for 11 years. They worked together in a law firm in Weston until he left in December for a job at Nordstrom's. She learned that Gavilanes was among the dead from a Facebook post by his wife.

    "She says she's holding on. Keeping prayers, trying to stay strong, but I know she's just heartbroken," she said.

    Neighbor Odalys Mueller said she witnessed the scene on Friday.

    "We heard gun shots and went out to the balcony and we saw on the fourth gloor the man that was just shooting randomly," Mueller said.

    Police spokesman Carl Zogby said the strategy was always to take out the threat, especially once negotiations broke down with Vargas, who was pointing his gun at his hostages.

    "And perhaps it was our response in pursuing him, which is our tactic now, we don't wait, we don't wait 'em out, we don't sit outside the building and engage him before he continues to kill people," Zogby said.

    Anthony Delgado, the owner of the building where the shooting took place, says he will help pay for the funerals of the six victims. Delgado also confirmed to NBC 6 that the shooter was a paying tenant that lived in that fourth floor apartment with his elderly mother for the last 12 years — a tenant who apparently never gave them any trouble.

    He was not being evicted, but Housing Authorities told NBC 6 that Vargas' mom Esperanza Patterson had applied for Section 8 assistance seven times in the last 17 years but been denied.

    "You don't know them until things like that happen," said tenant Carlos Alvarez. "The guy that did that was a nice guy. A quiet guy. He always said hello."

    A fund was set up for the families of the victims. Checks can be sent, payable to Survivors Pathway, City of Hialeah, PO Box 138882, Hialeah, Florida, 33013.

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