HIALEAH (CBSMiami) – A look inside the life and apartment of the Hialeah man who killed six people in a shooting rampage last Friday reveals a little more about the life he led and the hours leading up to the massacre.
El Nuevo Herald is reporting that before the rampage, Pedro Vargas called 911 to report that he was being followed by someone who was trying to cast a spell on him. Vargas’ mother took the phone away from him and told the operator not to send an officer, that her son suffered from problems and nervousness. The paper reports that she also told the operator that she had slipped Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, into his food.
El Nuevo Herald, citing Hialeah Police sources, is also reporting that two hours after calling police, Vargas went to the Kendall law office of attorney Angel Castillo Jr. Castillo, who three days earlier had gotten Vargas to admit that he had threatened former co-workers, was not in the office. Vargas reportedly told his mother that he was concerned his legal problems were going to cost him a lot of money, according to the paper.
The paper’s sources believe that concern likely kick-started a the deadly series of events at the Hialeah apartment building Friday night.
On Monday, a cleaning crew allowed an El Nuevo Herald reporter to tour the one bedroom apartment that Vargas shared with his mother.
Shoes and weightlifting equipment littered the floor. There were also a number of bootlegged DVDs of popular television shows such as Star Trek and Mad Men. There were also a number of crumpled papers, including instructions on how to win a video game and a $15.39 payment to Kohl’s, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
A July 2012 bank statement showed Vargas had $92,585.76 in a savings account, according to the paper. An earlier statement, from October 2007, showed $70,814.29 in the account. According to police, Vargas set about $10,000 of his cash savings on fire in his apartment before he began gunning down his neighbors.
Also among the scattered debris was old Miami Dade College employee badge that expired in 2007.
Vargas graduated from MDC with an associate’s degree in graphic design. He also worked there part-time in the media services department from 2004 to 2007, and full-time from 2007 to 2008, according to a statement from MDC spokesman Juan Mendieta.
“During his full-time tenure, his supervisors became concerned about his performance, including his punctuality, adherence to deadlines, the quality of his work, and the following of orders, among other issues. When these issues persisted, it was also detected that on multiple occasions that Vargas accessed inappropriate websites during work hours” according to the MDC statement.
Vargas was placed on leave on December 3, 2008 and presented with a letter of termination on Dec. 10th.
The following day, he tendered his resignation dated December 10, 2008. It was also learned that just prior to his resignation, on one occasion, he visited an anti-government website.
According to his online resume, Vargas also worked for a time at the University of Miami and, most recently, for tech-product seller Systemax until 2009.
Though several tenants in the five-story Todel Apartments had suggested that Vargas’ shooting spree began after he had been told he was going to be evicted, the building’s owner and the daughter of the building managers killed by Vargas said there was no truth to the rumor, according to the paper.
Meanwhile funeral arrangements are under way for Vargas’ six victims, husband-and-wife Italo and Samira Pisciotti, ages 79 and 69; Carlos Gavilanes, 33; Patricio Simono, 64, his girlfriend, Merly Niebles, 51, and her 17-year-old daughter, Priscilla Perez.
The owners of the building complex where the shootings took place, as well as an anonymous donor, have agreed to pay the funeral costs.
The city of Hialeah has established a victims’ fund to help the families. Checks payable to Survivors Pathway can be sent to:
City of Hialeah
PO Box 138882
Hialeah, FL 33013.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.