Pedro Alberto Vargas, the man who gunned down six of his Hialeah neighbors in a rampage Friday night, lived in a cramped, one-bedroom apartment with his 83-year-old mother. But a year ago, he had $92,000 in his bank account, records obtained by El Nuevo Herald show.
A glimpse into apartment 408 revealed that Vargas, a complex character who lived an apparently austere existence, kept a machete, plenty of weightlifting equipment and dozens of bootlegged DVDs in the home he shared with his mother, Esperanza Patterson.
A crew cleaning the charred apartment Monday afternoon let an El Nuevo Herald reporter take a look at some of Vargas’ belongings, many of them apparently headed for the garbage.
Among them were a series of yellow Post-It notes, numbered like a storyboard, and pirated copies of popular television shows such as Star Trek, Mad Men and Dexter, a show about a Miami serial killer.
Vargas was killed Saturday by a SWAT team at the end of a four-hour long standoff with police, after the gunman took two other neighbors hostage. The couple survived. Earlier, Vargas shot and killed six neighbors — five in his building at 1485 W. 46th St. and one across the street — with his Glock 9mm semiautomatic pistol. His motive remained unknown Monday.
Records obtained by the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald showed that Vargas, a freelance graphic designer, was forced to resign from his job at Miami Dade College’s North Campus in 2008 after his employer investigated him for violating the public university’s rules.
Vargas downloaded at least 24 files “of a personal nature, covering a variety of topics deemed to be inappropriate” to his work computer desktop, according to a Dec. 10, 2008, termination letter issued by MDC. He resigned the next day.
“It was also learned that just prior to his resignation, on one occasion, he visited an anti-government website,” MDC spokesman Juan Mendieta said in a statement.
When he was initially presented with the allegations against him, Vargas wrote in a letter that the allegations were “false.” “I do not have any desire to work under such intoxicating environment that has been created in the department,” he wrote.
Vargas, who graduated from MDC with an associate’s degree in graphic design, worked part-time at the university’s media services department from 2004 to 2007 and full-time from 2007 to 2008, according to the statement. Vargas later worked for the University of Miami and, most recently, for tech-product seller Systemax until 2009, according to an online version of his résumé.
“During his full-time tenure, his supervisors became concerned about his performance, including his punctuality, adherence to deadlines, the quality of his work, and the following of orders, among other issues,” before the university detected Vargas’ visits to “inappropriate websites during work hours,” the MDC statement said.
His former supervisor said Monday that he had long suspected Vargas of being behind a series of threatening e-mails and text messages — some of them sexual — the supervisor received beginning in April 2009, after Vargas’ resignation.
Th supervisor, Elmo Lugo, said one of the messages included a photo illustration of Lugo decapitated. Another suggested that Lugo should die from the same cancer that killed the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Lugo said.