HIALEAH, Fla. — The gunman who went on a shooting rampage at his South Florida apartment building, killing six people, was a lonely man who spoke about having pent-up anger, those who knew him said Sunday.
Pedro Vargas, 42, lived on the fourth floor of a concrete apartment complex in the Miami suburb of Hialeah with his elderly mother. He rarely spoke with others there, and confided to a man who worked out at the same gym that he did, that he liked to work out his anger by lifting weights and trying to get big.
‘‘He’d just say this was the only thing that would keep him normal, pulling out all the anger in the gym,’’ Jorge Bagos said. Bagos said the gunman expressed frustration over bad experiences with women and losing all his hair from using steroids.
On Friday night, Vargas set a combustible liquid on fire in his apartment, sending the unit into flames, police said. Building manager Italo Pisciotti and his wife went running toward the smoke. Vargas opened his door and shot and killed both of them, said Lieutenant Carl Zogby, a spokesman with the Hialeah Police Department.
Vargas then went back into his apartment and fired from his balcony. One of the shots struck and killed Carlos Javier Gavilanes, 33, who neighbors said was returning home from his son’s boxing practice.
Vargas then stormed into a third-story apartment, where he shot and killed a family of three: Patricio Simono, 64, Merly Niebles, 51, and her 17-year-old daughter.
For eight hours, police followed and exchanged gunfire with Vargas throughout the five-story complex as residents took cover in bathrooms and huddled with relatives.
Police attempted to negotiate with him, but the talks fell apart and a SWAT team swarmed in, killing Vargas and rescuing hostages.