Seven Killed in Hialeah Apartment Building Massacre UPDATED

Seven Killed in Hialeah Apartment Building Massacre UPDATED
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One of South Florida's worst mass killings played out over eight hours in a Hialeah apartment building last night, as a gunman killed residents and took hostages inside until a police SWAT team stormed in and killed him.

Specifics on the shootout are still thin this morning, but it apparently started with a confrontation between the gunman and the property's managers and ended with three men, three women and the shooter all dead.

Update: Hialeah police have released the names of the victims and the shooter. The victims were: Italo Piscotti, 79, and Camira Piscotti, 69; Carlos Gavilanes, 33; Patricio Simino, 64; Merly Niebles, 51; and a 17-year-old female whose name is still being withheld. The shooter was 42-year-old Pedro Alberto Vargas.

The violence began around 6:30 p.m., the Miami Herald reports, when the building's managers, 78-year-old Italo Piscotti and his wife, 68-year-old Samira, went to talk to the so far unidentified gunman, who lived with his mother.

One building tenant told the Herald that they'd tried to evict the killer and his mother at least once in the past.

"At about 6:30 p.m. Pedro Vargas, 43-year-old tenant attempted and succeeded in lighting his apartment on fire, for some unknown reason he bought a combustible liquid and lit his apartment on fire," said Hialeah police spokesman Carl Zogby.

"The building managers ran towards the apartment where they noticed smoke was coming out of. He came out of the door and shot both of them several times killing them right at the scene."

The gunman fired more than a dozen rounds into the elderly couple, killing them on the spot.

Before the SWAT team could move in, he then killed two other men and two women, then took at least two more people hostage, the Herald reports.

When SWAT officers stormed in, they killed the gunman fearing he could soon hurt his hostages, Hialeah police say.

"The bad guy is down, he's dead, he can not hurt anybody anymore and now it slows down and we find out exactly what happened here," Zogby told CBS4.

Zogby later told reporters that Vargas' body was found with "plenty of live ammunition" still left. "We don't have a clear motive. This was an irrational act and many times there is no rational explanation"

Additional reporting by Zachary Fagenson.

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