HIALEAH (CBS4) – Hialeah’s Police Chief says he worried the gunman who took six lives in a shooting spree was going to kill both of his hostages as well.
And that, he says, compelled him to send in the SWAT team.
“It was an extremely difficult situation to make but I weighed all the factors,” said Police Chief Sergio Velazquez. “I weighed everything and in the end I was hoping for the best outcome and confident that when my team was in place there was a plan for success.”
In his first one-on-one interview since the shooting spree that claimed six lives at an apartment complex last Friday night at 1485 West 46th Street, Velazquez told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench.
“It was a very difficult situation. But I had no choice but to go in after hours of negotiation. They were not leading anywhere and were not productive,” said Velazquez.
The chief pointed to one compelling image captured by a police robotic camera. It showed Zoeb and Sarrida Nek being held hostage by the gunman, 42-year-old Pedro Vargas.
“We have the facts that he took six lives and could take two more lives at any moment. We had the advantage. We had the tactical advantage,” said Velazquez, who started his career with the New York Police Department 27 years ago and who has been with the Hialeah Police Department for 22 years.
“My greatest fear was that the he (Vargas) was going to say this is the end and take two lives,” said Velazquez.
Velazquez also pointed to another photo. It showed the Neks’ after their rescue with a member of the SWAT team.
“It was great when I got the message from SWAT communications and they told me the hostages were rescued,” said Velazquez. “It was a relief to me that they were safe. My second question was are my people safe and the answer to that was that they were.”
“This was a senseless act,” he said. “This has tarnished us.”
In looking for the cause of the shooting spree, Velazquez told D’Oench he had interviewed two of Velazquez’s cousins.
“All these individuals made no mention of mental health issues.” said Velazquez.
He said he was still not sure what prompted the shooting but he has “several leads.” He said it was possible there was a motivating factor tied to Vargas’ last full-time job, which he left in October of last year.
“We are following up all possible leads to see what reason there was that he might have done this,” said Velazquez.