“Bye, my love,” she cried. “I’ll see you up there.”
A funeral for a fifth victim, Carlos Gavilanes, 33, was held Wednesday. The sixth victim, Patricio Simono, 64, who was Niebles’ boyfriend, will be buried Monday.
Vargas, 42, called 911 at 1:37 p.m. last Friday to report that he thought someone was following him, and that he was the victim of brujería — sorcery or witchcraft.
His mother also spoke to the operator, worried about her son’s state of mind — she told the operator she had slipped two crushed Xanax pills in Vargas’ food — but made no mention of “violence or violent tendencies,” said Zogby, who characterized the type of call as “not uncommon.”
“These things are unpredictable,” he stressed. “We cancel calls [for officers] all the time.”
At one point in the call, Vargas left the apartment with a bottle to buy gasoline, according to his mother. When pressed about the intended purchase, Patterson told the operator that the gas was for Vargas’ white Toyota Corolla. But she sounded unsure and speculated that maybe he had gone to buy motor oil.
When Vargas returned home around 6 p.m., Zogby said, he carried a full container of gasoline and a bag with an unknown amount — sources have said about $10,000 — in cash. He poured the gas over the bills and set them on fire.
At 6:58 p.m., neighbors called 911 to report smoke willowing out of apartment 408. The building managers went to investigate. Vargas shot them dead — in full view of his mother, according to Zogby — using his Glock 9mm semiautomatic pistol.
Police, notified by the fire department, were dispatched at 7:04 p.m. and arrived two minutes later to a hail of bullets. Vargas was killed shortly after 1:48 a.m. Saturday by a SWAT team that charged into the building to rescue two neighbors the shooter had taken hostage.
Zogby spoke Thursday at a police department news conference that began more than an hour behind schedule. Chief Sergio Velázquez didn’t attend because he was “busy running the department,” Zogby said.
The spokesman repeatedly noted that Vargas’ rampage began five hours and 15 minutes after his mother hung up with the emergency operator.
During that time, police believe Vargas purchased the gasoline and made a few more unknown stops before dropping by the Kendall office of an attorney who had deposed him three days earlier. Vargas, a graphic designer, had admitted Ssending anonymous threats to former colleagues from Bullet Line, a promotional products company.
The attorney, Angel Castillo Jr., was out. Police have said they think Vargas was intent on killing Castillo. Zogby said Thursday the motive behind Vargas’ shooting spree remain a mystery.
Zogby said police don’t know when it was that Vargas stopped by a Chase Bank branch in Hialeah to withdraw the cash he later burned.
Vargas had no known history of mental illness or drug use, according to Zogby. A toxicology screen from his autopsy is pending.
The only other time Vargas had contacted Hialeah police was on May 29, 2012, to report someone had stolen hubcaps off his car.