So began what would be an arduous and chilling three-hour negotiation all captured on video by a small robotic camera that police secretly positioned inside the couples apartment.
Pedro, let these people out, were going to help you, hostage negotiator Ricardo Plasencia said, according to a witness. Vargas asked for his girlfriend and his mother, and mumbled about getting a subpoena and going to court. Much of his ranting made no sense, police said.
By 2 a.m. time had run out.
SWAT teams stormed the apartment, killing Vargas and rescuing the hostages unharmed.
After periods of silence at the end, and seeing the images the robot brought back to us, we felt negotiations were breaking down, Hialeah police spokesman Carl Zogby said, noting that Vargas fired back and still had several rounds of ammunition when the SWAT team moved in.
Neighbor Carlos Sanchez said the standoff ended in the Neks bedroom. The bedroom wall of Sanchez own apartment now shows evidence of Vargas final moments its littered with bullet holes. Sanchez, who had evacuated from the building before the shots were fired, is repulsed by the whole scene.
I dont even want to sleep in that bed, Sanchez said. Its terrible.
Said Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez: We have never experienced a situation such as this, with so many victims in a building with so many defenseless people and with many obstacles that the police had to overcome. It was like a movie that has now left our community in mourning.
Miami Herald staff writers Evan S. Benn, Benjamin S. Brasch, Patricia Mazzei and Luisa Yanez, and El Nuevo Herald staff writers Enrique Flor, Melissa Sanchez and Julio Menache contributed to this report, which was supplemented with material from The Associated Press.