Florida police are still investigating what could have caused Pedro Alberto Vargas to set his apartment on fire and kill six people in the shooting that rocked the Miami suburb of Hialeah over the weekend.
Vargas, 42, went on a shooting rampage at his apartment complex Friday, first setting the unit he shares with his elderly mother on fire and then killing the building manager and his wife, a neighbor, and a family of three. The suspect's 83-year-old mother was able to escape from the burning apartment.
The man neighbors described as lonely and angry then barricaded himself with two hostages in a fifth-story unit, exchanging gunfire with police for eight hours.
Police Chief Sergio Velazquez ultimately decided to send in the SWAT team to end the standoff.
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"It was a very difficult decision," Velazquez told the Miami Herald Sunday
, "because I not only have the lives of the two hostages that we want to rescue, but I have in my hands the lives of the six police officers that I'm sending in to confront this man."
Armed with tactical gear, protective shields, and grenades, the SWAT team infiltrated the apartment, shot Vargas, and freed the hostages.
"It almost like this was out of a movie," police union president John Rivera, whose union is representing five of seven officers who fired their weapons during the eight-hour encounter, told the Herald. "They went in and almost simultaneously begin engaging the shooter while grabbing the hostages, passing them to the next SWAT member like a conveyor belt. There was very little space to work with. Any mishap and they could have shot even themselves."
Vargas, a part-time graphic designer with no known criminal background or history of mental illness, died on the scene. He had a permit for the Glock 9mm semiautomatic he purchased three years ago, police said.
Twitter users showed an outpouring of support online for the victims of the shooting.
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