Florida hostage siege: Seven killed in Hialeah

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Media caption,

Victim's daughter: "I heard 15 to 20 shots"

A gunman holding hostages in an apartment block near Miami in Florida killed six people before being shot dead by police, officials say.

Pedro Vargas, 42, who lived in the residential complex with his elderly mother, was described as a body-building loner.

Officers stormed the block of flats in Hialeah, north of Miami, on Saturday morning after an hours-long stand-off.

Two hostages were freed unharmed, police said.

Five of the victims were found inside the complex. Another man was killed while walking across a street outside.


A neighbour said Vargas was an anti-social type who liked to work out his anger by lifting weights.

"He'd just say this was the only thing that would keep him normal, pulling out all the anger in the gym," Jorge Bagos told the Associated Press news agency.

Image caption,
Police say there was no clear motive for the shooting by Pedro Vargas

Mr Bagos said the gunman had expressed frustration over bad experiences with women and losing all his hair from steroid use.

"He said he'd rather be by himself, that women were no good," Mr Bagos said.

Police were called after shots were fired on Friday evening.

They said Vargas set his apartment on fire. When the building manager Italo Pisciotti, 79, and his wife, Samira, 69, noticed the smoke and went to investigate, he shot them dead.

He then began firing from his balcony, killing Carlos Javier Gavilanes, 33, who neighbours said was returning home from his son's boxing practice.

Then he stormed into another apartment, shooting dead a family of three: Patricio Simono, 64, Merly Niebles, 51, and her 17-year-old daughter, Priscilla Perez.

Vargas then barricaded himself in a flat and took two people hostage.

Police moved in after almost eight hours of negotiations, local media said.

"They made the decision to go in there and save and rescue the hostages," Sgt Eddie Rodriguez told the Associated Press.

A 9mm pistol was found at the scene.

Police say there was no clear motive for the shooting and they are still investigating the circumstances.