Gavilanes, who hailed from an Ecuadorean family, grew up in New York. He moved to Miami 11 years ago, Kharrazian said, after meeting her through mutual friends on South Beach and falling in love. Interested in fashion, Gavilanes sold shoes at Nordstrom, learning the retail side of the business after beginning as a wholesaler, Kharrazian said.
The couple hadn’t gotten married, but in an interview with the Miami Herald, she referred to him as her husband. So did Gavilanes’ mother, Cynthia Ontiveros of Pembroke Pines.
Gavilanes planned to start his own shoe business with his father in August, the women said. The young family intended to leave Hialeah soon.
“They were going to move — God willing, here, to Pembroke Pines,” Ontiveros said in Spanish.
Then, she added: “Such a senseless death.”
Priscilla Perez, Merly Niebles and Patricio Simono
Seventeen-year-old Priscilla Perez sought cover in a bathtub when Vargas’ shooting spree began.
But that was not enough to save her.
Vargas made his way to apartment 304, where Priscilla lived with her mother, Merly Niebles, 51.
He shot the two women dead, along with a man, 64-year-old Patricio Simono, believed to be Niebles’ boyfriend.
Priscilla worked part-time at Lyn’s Furniture in Opa-locka, where co-workers grew concerned Saturday morning when she didn’t report to the store, missing their usual breakfast together.
“We checked on her and found out about this horrible, horrible tragedy,” said Catalina Vasquez, whose husband worked with Priscilla.
Vasquez described Priscilla as close to her mother, whom the girl tried to help financially.
“She was a lovely, sweet young girl, a very hard worker and very responsible,” Vasquez said. “She babysat for my kids, and I trusted her with them.”
Ivette Torre, another employee, referred to Priscilla as her “surrogate daughter,” and added: “We’re very affected by her death.”
Alberto Martinez, who said he was a cousin of the family, went to the crime scene carrying photos of Priscilla and Niebles. “I … found out in the morning when the detectives called,” he said in Spanish.
A few men who knew Simono chatted at a liquor store in the shopping center behind the apartment complex Saturday afternoon, remembering him as a friendly man who frequented the store.
“It’s a shame,” said Marino Nazco, 70, owner of Papi Liquor and Food Store.
Priscilla’s paternal grandparents, Julian and Gladys Perez of North Miami Beach, learned of their granddaughter’s death from a Miami Herald reporter who telephoned them Saturday afternoon.
“Oh my God,” a stricken Gladys Perez cried out in Spanish, in disbelief that Vargas had also killed Niebles and Simono.
Julian Perez said their son, also named Julian, long ago split from Niebles. The younger Julian Perez is a doctor in the Perezes’ native Dominican Republic, his father said.
The older Julian Perez said Niebles was originally from Colombia.
“She was good people. She was very wholesome,” he said.
The grandparents had lost touch with their former daughter-in-law, he added, but their granddaughter telephoned them on occasion.
“She was a good girl,” her grandfather said. “Very calm.”
Miami Herald staff writers Joey Flechas, Glenda Ortega, Charles Rabin and Luisa Yanez, and El Nuevo Herald staff writer María Pérez contributed to this report.