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Miami gunman downloaded computer files on explosives, sex

Police tape blocks the street to an apartment building after a shooting incident which began Friday evening left seven people dead in Hialea
Police tape blocks the street to an apartment building after a shooting incident which began Friday evening left seven people dead in Hialea

By Kevin Gray

MIAMI (Reuters) - A gunman who went on a shooting rampage in an apartment building had been forced to resign from his job at a Miami college after authorities found he downloaded files with links to bomb making, counterfeiting and killing with bare hands, according to documents released by the school on Tuesday.

Pedro Alberto Vargas, 42, set his apartment on fire, shot and killed six neighbors, and took 2 others hostage in the worst Miami area shootings in three decades.

A SWAT team stormed his apartment in Hialeah in a pre-dawn raid on Saturday, killing Vargas and rescuing the hostages.

Police continue to investigate a possible motive in the shooting, and neighbors have said they knew little about Vargas, a graphic artist who graduated with an associate's degree from Miami Dade College and worked at the school from 2004 to 2008.

According to a personnel file released by the state college, Vargas resigned in December 2008 from his job in the media services department after he "downloaded or transferred at least twenty-four files, of a personal nature, covering a variety of topics deemed to be inappropriate," one of the documents shows. The files included some of a sexual nature.

"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," Juan Mendieta, a college spokesman, said in a statement.

"It was also learned that just prior to his resignation, on one occasion, he visited an anti-government website," Mendieta said, although he did not provide details on the site.

In a letter detailing the allegations, a school official said the files Vargas downloaded included links to topics on letter, fertilizer and mailbox bombs, making plastic explosives from bleach and how to get a new identity.

Other topics included tutorials on hacking, hypnosis, credit card fraud, how to seduce women and "how to kill someone with your bare hands," the college said.

Vargas challenged the accusations in an email sent to school officials and said some of the files were downloaded outside of normal working hours when he was not at work.

"This letter is to make clear that I don't have anything to do with those false allegations," he said, adding that they were intended "to smear my good name and reputation."

Vargas wrote: "I do not have any desire to work under such intoxicating enviro[n]ment that has been created in the department."

He resigned from his job several days later.

The shooting started Friday evening after Vargas set fire to a large amount of cash. His mother told police he had withdrawn $10,000 from his savings account, but the exact amount remains unclear.

Vargas had more than $90,000 in a bank account, according to The Miami Herald, citing records found in the apartment.

Among the victims in the shooting were an elderly couple who were the apartment building's managers and four neighbors, including a 17-year-old girl who police said was shot while trying to hide in a bathtub.

Vargas also fired 10 to 20 shots into the street, killing a man walking home with his 9-year-old son after picking the boy up from boxing practice, police said.

Police are investigating reports that Vargas was possibly involved in a rental dispute, although court records show no eviction process was under way.

(Writing by Kevin Gray. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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