Gunman, Six Others, Killed In Florida Apartment Standoff

By Scott Neuman

July 27, 2013

A Florida gunman seized hostages and killed six people in an eight-hour standoff at an apartment complex that ended early Saturday when a SWAT team stormed the building and fatally shot the assailant.

The deadly incident occurred in Hialeah, a town just a few miles north of Miami. Police were quoted by The Associated Press as saying the bodies of three women and two men were found at the scene and that another man had been killed nearby. Two hostages were unharmed.

The Miami Herald reports that the dead include an elderly husband and wife who operated the apartment complex, but it was unknown if the shooter lived in the building.

Sgt. Eddie Rodriguez, speaking to The Associated Press, says police got a call around 6:30 p.m. EDT Friday that shots had been fired at the building. A crisis team was dispatched, but after briefly establishing contact with the gunman, talks to resolve the standoff fell apart.

"They made the decision to go in there and save and rescue the hostages," he said.

Update At 3:20 p.m. EDT:

Phil Latzman, reporting from Miami, says the standoff began after landlords Italo and Samira Pisciotti responded to a kitchen fire in the apartment of the shooter, identified as 43-year-old Pedro Vargas.

Samira Pisciotti, the daughter of the landlords, said her father died soon after, and that Vargas continued the rampage in a neighbor's apartment, shooting and killing a family of three, then firing his final fatal shot from a balcony at a man across the street, Phil reports.

The shooter then took two hostages and barricaded himself in an another apartment before a SWAT team stormed the building, killed him and rescued the hostages, he says.

Police say Vargas had no criminal record, and his motive is still unclear.

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