HIALEAH (CBSMiami) – Hours before Pedro Vargas went on a shooting spree last Friday, killing six of his neighbors before police took his life, he made a frantic call to 9-1-1 to report that he was being followed by someone who was casting spells on him.
Ten to 12 minutes into the call, Vargas’ elderly mother took the phone away from him and told emergency operator that her son suffered from problems and was only nervous, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
Esperanza Patterson, 83, reportedly said that they didn’t need any officers to come by their apartment because she had already slipped two Xanax pills into his food, according to the paper.
El Nuevo Herald, citing Hialeah Police sources, has reported 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 at Bullet Line, a national company that makes promotional products. Castillo, however, was not in the office.
“We believe that if the lawyer had been in his office that afternoon, Vargas might have killed him,” Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velázquez told the paper. “We suspect that case motivated all that violence. That would have been what made him unstable.”
Velazquez told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “Right now we feel this played a part in the tragedy from last Friday night. That’s one of the avenues that we are exploring. Who knows what triggered this is our deceased subject so this time this seems to be most chain of events leading to this.”
Castillo told the paper that Vargas worked as a temporary graphic designer in Bullet Line’s Miami office from May to October of last year. The company let him go in October because it did not have enough work and no longer needed his services, according to Castillo.
Months after his dismissal, several of Bullet Lines employees received malicious and defamatory emails.
“We were able to identify Mr. Vargas as a potential author of the anonymous messages,” Castillo said in a statement Tuesday to the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald.
Bullet Line contacted Castillo to take Vargas deposition. Castillo said initially Vargas denied making the threats, but then admitted that he sent threatening emails from the John F Kennedy in Hialeah – a surprise to people who knew him from the library.
“He was very well mannered. Personable. He was always okay with long lines. Never agitated. Always calm,” said Brenda Jackson.
Jackson told D’Oench “I can’t imagine him being the cause of this. I have never seen him display such behavior.”
“He was very polite. Very serious. I never imagine anything like this happening to him,” said Julia Hidalgo.
The JFK librarian said, “He was a regular patron for many years. He used the computer a lot.”
Vargas promised Castillo he would not send anymore threatening emails. Castillo then asked Vargas to write a letter of apology to Bullet Line employees. Vargas agreed. Four hours later, he sent the letter via e-mail to Castillo.
The deposition had left him anxious, a relative who asked to remain anonymous told the paper. Vargas had complained to his mother about “a subpoena related to his work,” the relative said.
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.
Castillo said Vargas’ fears were unfounded. In a statement, Castillo wrote that “Bullet Line immediately decided, after he accepted responsibility for his inexcusable campaign of harassing messages and apologized, that no further action was warranted under the circumstances.”
Castillo said in a statement that he didn’t “agree with the speculation that he (Vargas) went to my office intending to cause me, or anyone else, any harm, especially because he was treated courteously during his deposition and was not told that any other legal action was going to be taken against him by Bullet Line.”
Nonetheless, Castillo said since he didn’t know what Vargas had on his mind when he came to his office last Friday, he was glad he wasn’t there.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report