Hialeah shootings: Seven, including gunman, dead after standoff

By fellow Glenda Ortega and Miami Herald reporters Joey Flechas, Charles Rabin and Julie K. Brown

The negotiations with the killer began before midnight.

For hours, police watched as Zoeb and Sarrida Nek pleaded for their lives, weeping on their knees in their apartment as the intruder pointed a 9mm gun at their heads.

Six people were already dead by the time hostage negotiator Ricardo Plasencia arrived at Todel Apartments in Hialeah on Friday night, to find himself facing the bloodiest mass murder in the city’s history. One of the victims was a 17-year-old girl whom Pedro Alberto Vargas hunted down and shot while she hid in her bathtub. Moments before, Vargas had aimed his gun across the street like a sharpshooter, killing a man who had just picked up his 9-year-old son from boxing practice.

Vargas moved from floor to floor during his rampage, gunning people down — after first setting about $10,000 of his cash savings on fire in his own apartment, police said.

Eventually he kicked his way into the Neks’ fifth-floor unit, aiming to take two more lives.

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 couple’s apartment.

“Pedro, let these people out, we’re going to help you,’’ Plasencia said, according to a witness. Vargas, 42, 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 later said.