Moving forward after Hialeah chaos
HIALEAH, Fla. (WSVN) -- As families and friends begin to move on from a mass shooting tragedy that took the lives of six people, residents of the Todel apartments begin the clean-up process and try to get past what occurred.
There was also an emotional return, Tuesday afternoon, for a man and woman who survived after they were held hostage by the gunman. The couple did not comment but shared pictures of themselves thanking the police and SWAT team members who saved them from certain death. "One of the fears that we had was that he could take the hostages and bring them into a bedroom," said Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velasquez.
On Tuesday memorials continued to grow for the victims around the apartment building to help families remember, as well as move on from the Friday night incident.
The mass shooting has caused several residents to chose to move out of the apartment building, including those who were close to the victims. "I'm trying to convince my mom to move somewhere else," said Rosangela Estrada, a friend and neighbor of one of the youngest victims, 17-year-old Priscilla Perez. "I don't want to live here anymore."
Clean up also began in the apartment where accused gunman Pedro Vargas lived, which he had set on fire before going on his shooting spree. On Tuesday afternoon, cleaning crews could be seen tossing debris out from the balcony Vargas had attacked victims from. Cellphone video showed little left inside his apartment.
Hialeah Police said, due to circumstances brought upon by Vargas, their only means of action was to take down the shooter with deadly force. "He was speaking very low," Velasquez said, "talking gibberish we couldn't make sense of. We tried to introduce, asked his permission to introduce, a phone into the apartment, he refused that. He didn't want us introducing anything. There was really no dialog of anything that was moving forward in the right direction."
One of the witnesses, who chose to remain anonymous, remembers the sound of gunshots flying through the air. "My friend told me throw yourself on the ground and pray," the witness said through a translator, "grab the Bible and pray and pray, and I said, 'my God, may the shooter run out of bullets.'"
The owner of the apartment building said he is trying to help his tenants cope and has hung up "no trespassing" signs in hopes of some kind of return to normalcy. Estrada left a note for Perez on a fence turned into a memorial. "It's really sad because she was going to be a senior now," she said. "Her life was just starting now."
Meanwhile, the viewing for 33-year-old for Carlos Gavilanes began that evening at San Jose Funeral Home. His funeral is scheduled for Wednesday. That same funeral home will then host Perez' wake, the following day.
The families of the victims are asking for donations to pay for funeral costs and for the survivors of the ordeal:
HELP FOR VICTIM'S FAMILIES
Checks payable to:
City of Hialeah
PO BOX 138882
Hialeah, FL 33013
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