The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 27, 2013

Gunman among 7 dead after Fla. apartment shootout

(Continued)

Fabian Valdes, who lives across the street, said he heard shots fired and then looked out his window and saw a man lying on the floor, outside the front lobby. He was on his back and had his arms and legs outstretched.

Valdes said he was in shock. "It's something you never expect," he said.

In the large Miami suburb of Hialeah, the entrance to the quiet neighborhood lined with apartment buildings was blocked off early Saturday.

The standoff occurred in an aging beige five-story building with an open terrace in the middle.

Miriam Valdes, 70, said she lives on the top floor — one floor above where the shooting began. She said she heard gunfire and later saw smoke entering her apartment.

She described running in fear to the unit across the hall, where she stayed holed up as officers negotiated with the gunman.

From the apartment, Valdes said she could hear about eight officers talking with the gunman.

She said she heard the officers tell him to "let these people out."

"We're going to help you," she said they told him.

She said the gunman first asked for his girlfriend and then his mother but refused to cooperate.

Ester Lazcano said she lives two doors down from where the shooting began and was in the shower when she heard the first shots. Then there were many more.

"I felt the shots," she said.

Neighbors said the gunman lived in the building, but police wouldn't confirm that information. Rodriguez said police were still investigating the motive and identifying the gunman and victims.

"Investigators are talking with families of the victims, neighbors, people that were present when all this began," he said. "That way we can start to piece together this huge puzzle that we're working with."

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