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Bruce Jeffrey PARDO

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: " 'Santa' gunman "
 
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Christmas Eve party - Divorce problems
Number of victims: 9
Date of murders: December 24, 2008
Date of birth: 1963
Victims profile: 5 women and 4 men (his ex-wife and her relatives)
Method of murder: Shooting (handgun) - Fire (homemade flamethrower)
Location: Covina, Los Angeles, California, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day
 
 
 
 
 
 
photo gallery
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bruce Pardo autopsy report
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Covina massacre occurred on December 24, 2008, in Covina, a city in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California, United States. Nine people were killed from either gunshot wounds or an arson fire inside a house where a Christmas Eve party was being held.

The perpetrator, 45-year-old Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, who was dressed in a Santa suit while in the house, committed suicide from a gunshot wound to the head at his brother's residence in the early morning hours after the attack. Authorities have cited marital problems as a possible motive for the violence; reports indicate Pardo's divorce had been finalized December 18, one week prior to the massacre. Three people, believed to be Pardo's ex-wife and his former in-laws, officially remain missing pending identification of the bodies.

Attack

At approximately 11:30 p.m. PST, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, dressed in a Santa Claus suit, knocked on the door of his former in-laws' house, occupied with about 25 people, with a gift-wrapped package (containing a homemade flamethrower) in one hand and a semi-automatic handgun in the other hand; he also had three additional semi-automatic handguns in his possession.

When the door opened, Pardo fired the handgun at an eight-year-old girl as she ran to greet him, injuring her in the face. He then fired indiscriminately at fleeing partygoers. Police speculate that Pardo may have stood over and pointedly executed some of the victims, using the other handguns.

After the shootings, Pardo unwrapped the package containing the homemade flamethrower, and used it to spray racing fuel gasoline to set the home ablaze. Nine people died from either gunfire or flames, and three others were wounded: the eight-year-old girl who was shot in the face with severe but non-life-threatening injuries, a 16-year-old girl shot and wounded in the back, and a 20-year-old woman who suffered a broken ankle jumping out of the second-floor window.

There was one survivor who called the authorities during the attack after escaping to a neighbor's house. The resulting fire soared approximately 40 to 50 feet and took 80 firefighters an hour-and-a-half to extinguish. Due to the intensity of the fire, identification of the victims had been done by referencing dental and medical records.

After the attack, Pardo put on his street clothes and drove his Dodge Caliber rental car to his brother's house in Sylmar, approximately 30 miles away from the crime scene, where he was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His brother was not present in the home at the time of Pardo's death. It was initially believed that Pardo intended to flee to Canada by plane as he had bought an airline ticket to a flight on Air Canada; however, subsequently it was discovered the flight was from Los Angeles to Moline, Illinois (with a layover in Minnesota). Pardo had called days before to tell his high school friend that he was planning to visit, but investigators are unsure if he intended to go or if the flight was to fool investigators. He had visited the friend before in October 2008.

However, due to suffering from severe third-degree burns on his arms stemming from the blaze, he decided to go against the initial plan. Police found $17,000 in cash cling-wrapped on his legs inside a girdle, and his rental car that had been parked one block from his brother's house, which had been rigged by remnants of his Santa suit that would ignite a flame and detonate the car with black powder if removed. Also recovered from the scene were four 13-round capacity handguns that were each empty, and at least 200 rounds of ammunition. Suggesting that what had been inside the car was being treated as a threat, a bomb squad fired an incendiary device into it, destroying and burning it. At Pardo's house in Montrose, police had recovered five empty boxes for semi-automatic handguns, two shotguns, and a container for high octane fuel tank gasoline.

Fatalities

At least three victims' deaths were caused by gunshot wounds alone, while four others died from a combination of both gunshot wounds and fire; two other deaths stemmed from the fire alone. The victims include:
 

Name Age Notes
 Sylvia Ortega Pardo 43  Bruce Jeffrey Pardo's ex-wife
 Alicia Ortega 70  Sylvia Pardo's mother
 Joseph Ortega 80  Sylvia Pardo's father
 Charles Ortega 49  Sylvia Pardo's brother
 Cheri Ortega 45  Charles Ortega's wife
 James Ortega 51  Sylvia Pardo's brother
 Teresa Ortega 52  James Ortega's wife
 Alicia Ortega Ortiz 46  Sylvia Pardo's sister
 Michael Ortiz 17  Alicia Ortiz's son


Motive

Police speculate that the motive of the attack was related to marital problems. Pardo's wife of one year had settled for divorce in the prior week. However, Pardo held no criminal record and had no history of violence. He had been fired from his job as an electrical engineer at ITT Electronic Systems Radar Systems in July. There is some speculation that the divorce may have been caused by Pardo concealing a child from a previous relationship. This child was severely injured in a swimming pool accident several years previous.

The couple wed on January 2006, but soon grew apart after their marriage, when Mr. Pardo refused to open a joint account with Mrs. Pardo; he also expected Mrs. Pardo to take care of her own three children with her own finances.

In June 2008, divorce court had ordered Bruce Pardo to pay $1,785 a month in spousal support. During the divorce proceeding, Bruce had confided to a friend his wife was "taking him to the cleaners." In July, Mr. Pardo was fired for billing false hours and the court suspended the payments due to job hardship.

It was revealed that he had planned to kill his own mother after the massacre at Sylvia's home due to her apparent sympathy for Sylvia during the divorce proceedings.

Pardo was required to pay Sylvia $10,000 as part of the divorce settlement, according to court documents. Sylvia kept the wedding ring and the family dog. In a court declaration, Pardo complained that Sylvia was living with her parents, not paying rent, and had spent lavishly on a luxury car, gambling trips to Las Vegas, meals at fine restaurants, massages, and golf lessons.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

'Santa' gunman kills several, then self

By Christina Hoag - The Washington Times

December 25, 2008

COVINA, Calif. (AP) -- A man wearing a Santa suit who had been suffering marital problems opened fire at a Christmas party at a house that then caught fire, leaving more than three people dead, authorities said Thursday.

Hours later, police found the body of the suspect, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, at the home of his brother early Thursday in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles. Police said he killed himself but would not say how.

"He was going through some type of marital problems, and we believe that this residence is a relative's residence," Lt. Pat Buchanan said.

Police initally said three people were dead in the shootings and fire late Wednesday. Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said Thursday that investigators sifting through the ashes of the house found more bodies, but would not say how many.

The bodies were too badly burned to immediately determine whether they died in the shootings or the fire, Winter said. "We have multiple bodies inside," Winter said. "They're extremely charred and burned."

The gunman arrived at the party in Covina late Wednesday and immediately opened fire with a handgun, Buchanan said. Witnesses told police that the man took off the Santa suit and left the scene of the burning house in street clothes.

Winter said the search through the destroyed home would take at least until the end of the day.

Jan Gregory, a neighbor, said about 25 people were at the party when the gunshots rang out and people started running by the house.

She said she saw a teenage boy run from the house screaming, "They shot my family."

Buchanan says three other people were injured. A woman in her 20s and an 8-year-old girl had gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening, and a third person had a broken ankle.

Police received several 911 calls with reports of shots fired at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night, and were still hearing gunshots after they arrived and found the house in flames, Buchanan said.

At first, firefighters were held back by police because shots were still being fired, though it may have been ammunition burning in the blaze, fire Captain Mike Brown said.

Firefighters had extinguished the blaze by about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, fire Captain Mike Brown said.

The two-story home on a cul-de-sac was destroyed in Covina, a quiet suburb 25 miles east of Los Angeles.

"This neighborhood is really quiet," said Jeffrey Barrientos, who lives half a block from the house that burned. Barrientos said the neighborhood's residents were mostly retirees and elderly people.

 
 

Pipebomb explodes in car rented by Santa shooting suspect Bruce Pardo

CNN News - NYDailyNews.com

Friday, December 26th 2008

LOS ANGELES, California - A pipebomb exploded Thursday night in a rental car used a day earlier by a man suspected in a Christmas Eve attack in which at least eight people died, police said.

The car was parked outside a Sylmar, California, home where Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, committed suicide hours after he allegedly - dressed as Santa Claus - opened fire at a holiday party and then started a raging blaze inside a Covina, California, home, police said.

Investigators have yet to identify eight charred bodies recovered from the burned house, which belonged to the parents of Pardo's ex-wife. A ninth person is counted as missing.

A police bomb squad was attempting to render safe a suspicious device in the rental car when it erupted in flames Thursday night, Los Angeles Police Sgt. James Bender told the Los Angeles Times.

This prompted police to then to evacuate houses near Pardo's Montrose, California home out of concern he may have left bombs behind there. That street was reopened late Thursday.

Pardo's neighbors talked to CNN affiliate KABC Thursday as they watched police search his home.

"He's very nice, very sociable," Cindy Keenan said. She said Pardo always decorated his home for the holidays.

Patrick Guzman said when he encountered Pardo in his yard about two hours before the attack, "He seemed normal."

"He said 'Merry Christmas' to me," Guzman said.

Police said the holiday party was attended by about 25 people. The gunman, dressed in a full Santa Claus outfit, came in the front door and then moved through the house, firing two semi-automatic handguns and using an apparently homemade pressurized device to spread some kind of accelerant.

The first victim was an 8-year-old girl who ran to the door after hearing a knock, police said. She was shot in the face but survived.

"She has a very, very severe injury to her face. It's not life-threatening, but she's got a very tough road ahead of her," Lt. Pat Buchanan of the Covina Police Department said at a news conference Thursday.

Covina Police Chief Kim Raney said people at the party were jumping out of windows on both floors of the house trying to escape the gunfire and flames.

"The information we have so far is that Mr. Pardo was married to the daughter of the resident of the house," Raney said. "They'd been married for possibly one year, had recently divorced and a settlement was reached apparently last week. It sounds like that might have been a very contentious divorce."

Police said Thursday afternoon that six bodies had been recovered, but the woman who had been married to Pardo and her parents were unaccounted for.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office later said two more bodies had been recovered.

No identities of the victims were released.

In addition to the nine people killed or unaccounted for, police said three people were injured, including the 8-year-old girl. A 16-year-old girl was wounded by gunfire and was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, police said, and a woman who jumped out of a second-floor window suffered a broken leg and was hospitalized.

Ed Winter, assistant chief Los Angeles County coroner, said the bodies recovered were "severely burned and charred" and dental and medical records and X-rays will be necessary to establish identities.

Winter said the intense fire caused the top floor of the two-story house to collapse onto the first floor.

Pardo's body was discovered about 30 miles from the shooting scene at his brother's house in the Los Angeles suburb of Sylmar, dead from "a self-inflicted gunshot wound," police said. Relatives returning to that house found Pardo's body, police said.

Buchanan of the Covina Police Department said police received several 911 calls at 11:27 p.m. Wednesday, and when officers arrived at the house three to four minutes after the first call, the dwelling was engulfed in flames.

The fire was so intense that firefighters battled the blaze for an hour and a half before knocking the flames down so that officers "were able to look into the house from the outside, and initially saw three bodies in the front portion of the house," he said.

Buchanan said people who were able to flee the building reported that once the gunman was in the house, "he fired multiple rounds into the people attending the party and multiple people were struck."

People hid under furniture and tried to flee by whatever exits they could find, including windows, he said.

As uninjured people were trying to escape, "that's when he (Pardo) lit the accelerant in some manner -- we do not know how at this point - and he fled the scene."

Buchanan said the device that spread accelerant was "nothing that we or the arson-explosives unit has ever seen before. It appears to be homemade."

A Christmas Eve party at the house was a family tradition, Raney said, and the party had often featured a visit from a neighbor who was dressed as Santa Claus. He said that neighbor has moved out of the neighborhood and was not at the party Wednesday night.

Referring to Pardo, Buchanan said, "We don't know at this point whether he was aware that there was a Santa Claus in years past. We're assuming that he did, and that's the reason for the outfit."

 
 

Gunman in Santa Suit Had Ticket to Canada

By Solomon Moore and Anahad O'Connor - The New York Times

December 26, 2008

COVINA, Calif. — A man dressed in a Santa Claus suit who opened fire at a Christmas Eve gathering of his former in-laws here and then set the house ablaze, killing nine people before fleeing, was found with $17,000 in cash and a plane ticket to Canada, the police said Friday.

At an afternoon news conference, the police chief said the gunman, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, instead drove to his brother’s house in Sylmar, about 40 miles from here, after suffering third-degree burns to both arms in the inferno and took his own life with a single gunshot to the head.

Hours earlier on Friday, the ninth body was discovered in the rubble of the home in Covina, a small town about 20 miles east of Los Angeles, where people were stunned by what had unfolded in their suburban town.

At the news conference, Police Chief Kim Raney said that when Mr. Pardo’s body was discovered, part of the Santa costume was melted to his skin.

The chief said investigators had discovered a résumé for Mr. Pardo, and though he could not vouch for its accuracy, it indicated that Mr. Pardo, who was unemployed, had a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

Chief Raney said Mr. Pardo and his wife had finalized a contentious divorce last week.

Among the total of dead or missing were the couple who owned the home and their daughter, the former wife of the gunman, the police said.

Investigators continued to search the charred structure Friday, and at the news conference Ed Winter, assistant chief coroner of Los Angeles County, said dental records would be needed to identify the remains.

The frenzied shooting occurred just before midnight Wednesday at the two-story house, set on a cul-de-sac in this middle-class town. Lt. Pat Buchanan of the Covina Police Department said on Thursday that Mr. Pardo, armed with handguns and material to burn down the house, had gone to the house looking for his former wife, Sylvia, to whom he had been married about two years.

People who escaped the house got out by smashing through glass and jumping. One woman broke an ankle when she leapt from a second-floor window.

The house was owned by James and Alicia Ortega, an elderly couple who were retired from their spray-painting business and who often invited their large extended family over for parties, particularly around Christmas.

Relatives said about 25 people, among them many children, were inside the home celebrating when Mr. Pardo knocked on the door around 11:30 p.m. He had apparently disguised himself as a hired entertainer for the children to gain access.

When a guest opened the door, Lieutenant Buchanan said, Mr. Pardo stepped inside the house, drew a semiautomatic handgun and immediately started shooting, beginning with an 8-year-old girl who was hit in the face but who survived, as did an older girl who was shot in the back.

As Mr. Pardo unleashed a barrage of gunfire in the living room, relatives smashed through windows, hid behind furniture or bounded upstairs. Then he sprayed the room with the jet fuel, using a device made of two pressurized tanks, one of which held pressurized gas. Within seconds, the house was ablaze.

Joshua Chavez of Seattle was visiting his mother’s house, which sits behind the Ortegas’, when he heard a loud explosion. “Then I saw black smoke and this large flame,” he said.

Mr. Chavez ran out to the backyard and heard three girls, including the one who had been shot in the back, trying to climb over his mother’s wall. “There’s some guy shooting in there,” he said one of the girls told him.

“About 20 seconds after that,” he continued, “the house was totally on fire. One girl said that a guy dressed as Santa started shooting.”

Another neighbor, Jeannie Goltz, 51, saw three more partygoers fleeing the burning home. One of them, a young woman, had escaped upstairs from the living room but broke her ankle when she jumped out a second-story window.

SWAT teams arrived shortly after Ms. Goltz had shepherded these three survivors into another neighbor’s house, but by that time Mr. Pardo was on his way back to Los Angeles.

Police officers said they could not recall so horrific a crime in Covina, and neighbors said they would never have imagined anything so grisly on their quiet block.

The Ortegas had lived in the house for more than two decades and were known for their family spirit, their generosity and their dog, which frequently escaped their yard.

“I would generally play Santa for the family every year,” said Pat Bower, a neighbor of the Ortegas for 25 years. “The family was always together. Brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles were always in the house. They were a gigantic family. We all envied them, actually.”

Robert and Gloria Magcalas lived next door to the Ortegas for 11 years but were celebrating Christmas Eve with relatives in Los Angeles. Their own home was barely spared the flames.

“They were a big, loving family,” Mrs. Magcalas said. “We usually exchanged gifts with them today. They gave us tamales and cookies every Christmas.”

The police said they had found two handguns in the ruins, and an additional two pistols at the scene of Mr. Pardo’s apparent suicide.

 
 

Police: Santa shooter planned to fly to Canada after killings but badly burned himself

CNN News - NYDailyNews.com

Friday, December 26th 2008

LOS ANGELES, California - The man who dressed as Santa Claus and killed nine people at a Christmas Eve party in suburban Los Angeles was planning to fly to Canada hours later, police said Friday.

Prime suspect Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, had $17,000 in cash strapped to his body and had a plane ticket for a Christmas morning flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Canada, Covina Police Chief Kim Raney said at a news conference.

Pardo, who was badly burned in the fire to the point that part of his Santa suit melted to his body, committed suicide hours after the carnage at the home in Covina belonging to the parents of Pardo's ex-wife, police said.

A pipe bomb exploded Thursday night in a car Pardo had rented and left parked outside his brother's home in suburban Sylmar where he committed suicide, police said

A police bomb squad was attempting to render safe a suspicious device in the rental car when it erupted in flames Thursday night, Los Angeles Police Sgt. James Bender told the Los Angeles Times.

This prompted police to to evacuate houses near Pardo's home in suburban Montrose out of concern he may have left bombs there. That street was reopened late Thursday.

Pardo's neighbors talked to CNN affiliate KABC Thursday as they watched police search his home.

"He's very nice, very sociable," Cindy Keenan said. She said Pardo always decorated his home for the holidays.

Patrick Guzman said that when he encountered Pardo in his yard about two hours before the attack, "He seemed normal."

"He said 'Merry Christmas' to me," Guzman said.

Police said about 25 people attended the holiday party. The gunman, dressed in a full Santa Claus outfit, came in the front door and shot an 8-year-old girl in the face before moving through the house, firing two semi-automatic handguns and using an apparently homemade pressurized device to spread some type of accelerant.

The girl survived.

"She has a very, very severe injury to her face. It's not life-threatening, but she's got a very tough road ahead of her," Lt. Pat Buchanan of the Covina Police Department said at a news conference Thursday.

Covina Police Chief Kim Raney said people at the party were jumping out of windows on both floors of the house trying to escape the gunfire and flames.

"The information we have so far is that Mr. Pardo was married to the daughter of the resident of the house," Raney said. "They'd been married for possibly one year, had recently divorced and a settlement was reached apparently last week. It sounds like that might have been a very contentious divorce."

Police said Thursday afternoon that six bodies had been recovered, but the woman who had been married to Pardo and her parents were unaccounted for.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office later said two more bodies had been recovered.

In addition, police said three people were injured, including the 8-year-old girl. A 16-year-old girl was wounded by gunfire and was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, police said, and a woman who jumped out of a second-floor window suffered a broken leg.

Ed Winter, assistant chief Los Angeles County coroner, said the recovered bodies were "severely burned and charred" and dental and medical records and X-rays will be needed to establish identities.

He said the intense fire caused the top floor of the two-story house to collapse onto the first floor.

Pardo's body was discovered about 30 miles from the shooting scene at his brother's house, dead from "a self-inflicted gunshot wound," police said. Relatives returning to that house found Pardo's body, police said.

 
 

'Santa' Bruce Jeffrey Pardo shoots nine dead and torches in-laws' home

By Chris Ayres - TimesOnline.co.uk

December 27, 2008

The man was dressed as Santa Claus when he knocked on the door of a well-to-do house in Covina, California, just before 11.30pm on Christmas Eve. A party with about two dozen guests was going on inside.

From the doorstep, he could hear laughter, glasses clinking, Christmas music playing. A girl aged 8 heard the knocking and ran up the hallway to see who was there. No doubt she was surprised and delighted to see Father Christmas, holding what looked like a large, wrapped present.

That was when Santa shot her in the face at almost point-blank range with a semi-automatic handgun before pushing his way into the house and turning his weapon indiscriminately on the other party guests. He then incinerated them with a homemade form of napalm.

Screaming guests dived for cover or tried to flee the furnace of the living room. One girl leapt from a second-floor window, breaking her ankle when she smashed into the concrete below. Jan Gregory, a neighbour, said she saw a teenage boy run from the house screaming: “They shot my family.”

Astonishingly, the eight-year-old girl survived, as did another aged 16 who was shot in the back.

But at least nine others perished in the worst mass shooting this year in the United States and possibly the most horrific domestic attack in California since associates of Charles Manson repeatedly stabbed the pregnant model Sharon Tate to death at her Beverly Hills home in 1969.

The killer was identified yesterday as Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, and the house he attacked belonged to his former inlaws, Joseph Ortega, 80, and Alicia Ortega, 70. It is believed that they died in the gunfire, along with Pardo’s former wife Sylvia, 43.

The couple’s acrimonious divorce had been finalised last week, and under its terms Pardo had been ordered to hand over $10,000 and the family dog.

Pardo had lost his job at ITT Electronic Systems, a military defence supplier, in July and was “desperately seeking” work. He had complained that his wife, who filed for divorce in March, was living with her parents, not paying rent, while he struggled to pay support.

Last night police said that Pardo had been planning to flee but had killed himself instead after his Santa suit melted onto his body. He was discovered dead with $17,000 and an aeroplane ticket to Canada, they told a press conference.

Emergency crews were still trawling the blackened wreckage of the house yesterday, having worked at the crime scene throughout Christmas Day.

“We have multiple bodies inside,” said Ed Winter, of the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office. “They’re extremely charred and burnt.”

The body of Pardo – who had volunteered to serve as an usher at Midnight Mass at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in his home town of Montrose before deciding instead to put on a Santa suit and drive a rental car to the home of his former inlaws – was discovered on Thursday at his brother’s house in Slymar, about 40 miles away from the Ortegas’ property. He had died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Police said that a pipe bomb exploded early yesterday in the hire car parked outside his brother’s home.

Friends of the Ortegas yesterday expressed their shock at the slaughter. “To know that one individual, one coward, could bring so much devastation and heartache to a family,” said Rosa Ordaz.

Police said that they received several emergency calls regarding gunshots fired in Covina at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve and were still hearing the gunshots after they arrived and found the house in flames. At first, firefighters were told not to approach the property because of the gunfire, although it was probably burning ammunition. The flames were finally put out at about 1.30am on Christmas Day.

Neighbours remained in shock yesterday. “This neighbourhood is really quiet,” said Jeffrey Barrientos, who lives half a block from the Ortegas’ house. At Pardo’s homepolice found a wreath hung on the front door and children’s sweets hanging from the fence. An SUV and a military-style Hummer were parked in the driveway. After searching the property, detectives said it appeared that the shooting and the napalm attack had been planned.

They said that his ability to construct a homemade napalm gun had probably been a result of his training in the aerospace industry.

When told of the killings, friends of Pardo struggled to believe what had taken place.

“Bruce?” said Jan Detanna, the head usher at his church. “He was the nicest guy you could imagine. Always a pleasure to talk to, always a big smile.”

 
 

Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, Santa Gunman On Christmas Eve, Lost Job Wife Before Rampage

By Gilliam Flaccus - HuffingtonPost.com

December 27, 2008

MONTROSE, Calif. — Bruce and Sylvia Pardo started the new year in 2006 with all signs pointing to a bright future _ an upcoming marriage, a combined income of about $150,000, half-million-dollar home on a quiet cul-de-sac and a beloved dog, Saki.

But things quickly turned sour and divorce documents paint a bitter picture of Bruce Pardo's increasing desperation as he lost first his wife, then his job and finally the dog. By fall 2008, Pardo was asking a judge to have his ex-wife pay him support and cover his attorney's fees.

Pardo's downward slide ended Christmas Eve, when the 45-year-old electrical engineer donned a Santa suit and massacred nine people at his former in-laws' house in Covina, where a family Christmas party was under way. He then used a homemade device disguised as a present to spray racing fuel that quickly sent the home up in flames.

Pardo had planned to flee to Canada following the killing spree but suffered third-degree burns in the fire _ which melted part of the Santa suit to him _ and decided to kill himself instead, investigators said. His body, with a bullet wound to the head, was found at his brother's home about 40 miles away.

Police said Saturday that they are seeking a second, possibly boobytrapped car rented by Pardo. The rented compact car he had driven to his former in-laws house was rigged to set off 500 rounds of ammunition and later exploded outside his brother's home. No one was injured.

The slaughter came six days after Pardo and his ex-wife appeared in court to finalize their divorce. Police believe the dead included Sylvia Pardo, 43, and her parents, Joseph Ortega, 80, and his 70-year-old wife, Alicia. Other suspected victims were Sylvia Pardo's two brothers and their wives, her sister and a 17-year-old nephew.

Police listed the victims as unaccounted for because coroner's officials said the nine bodies were too badly charred for immediate identification.

Shocked friends said nothing indicated he was on the verge of a murderous rampage. Pardo had told one friend he planned to usher at the Christmas Eve midnight Mass at his church and told another to expect him for a visit in Iowa around the holidays. He had no previous criminal record.

"I can't believe I'm seeing my old boyfriend on TV and all the people he destroyed," said Carol Sanchez, who dated Pardo for four years, when both were 18-year-old high school students. "It's very heartbreaking."

"He was a very easygoing person, a very friendly guy," she said. "I would never in my right mind think that he would ever do anything like this."

Pardo had a 9-year-old son, Matthew, by another former girlfriend, Elena Lucano. He had not seen the child for years, but apparently was claiming him as a dependent for tax purposes. Lucano told the Los Angeles Times that she didn't know Pardo was claiming their son as a dependent.

The boy was left severely brain damaged as a toddler when he fell into a backyard swimming pool on Jan. 6, 2001 while Pardo was alone with him at his former home in Woodland Hills, according to attorney Jeffrey Alvirez, who represented Lucano in the resulting court case.

Medical costs reached $340,000. Lucano sued Pardo to obtain money from his $100,000 homeowner's insurance policy and about $36,000 was put into a trust fund for the boy, who requires constant care. Pardo never contributed any more money to the boy's care.

"He never spent a dime on his son," Alvirez said.

Alvirez said he would not be surprised if Pardo kept that part of his life a secret from his wife.

Court documents from the Pardos' nearly yearlong divorce proceeding reveal a marriage that faltered early and then descended into a bitter feud.

The couple married on Jan. 29, 2006, and moved into a home Pardo already owned in Montrose, about 15 miles north of Los Angeles. The house sits up the hill from the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, where he volunteered as an usher at the children's Mass.

Two days after the shootings, Christmas lights still twinkled from the fence and the roof line and blue-green lights sparkled in an orange tree as two police officers searched the house.

Sylvia Pardo didn't bring much money to the marriage _ just $31,000 a year from a job at a flower-breeding company in El Monte _ but she brought a 5-year-old daughter from a previous relationship and almost all the furniture. By all accounts, Pardo was close to his wife's daughter.

Sylvia Pardo also had two other children from a previous marriage.

Bruce Pardo was making $122,000 a year as an electrical engineer at ITT Electronic Systems Radar Systems in Van Nuys, and together the couple built a nest egg of $88,500 in two years. He often puttered around the house or walked Saki, the couple's big, brown Akita, in a local park.

But by December 2007, Sylvia Pardo was sleeping in another room and spending weekends with her parents, according to court papers. Two months later she told him she wanted a divorce.

She filed court papers asking for attorney's fees and $3,166 in monthly spousal support. She claimed her husband had drawn down their $88,500 savings to $17,000 in two months and was transferring funds to a private account.

"The situation has become untenable, and continuing the marriage was not an option," she said in court documents.

In July, Pardo lost his job at ITT and soon was drowning in debt while scrambling to find work. He begged the court to grant him spousal support until he could find employment. He complained in a filing that he had monthly expenses of $8,900 and ran a monthly deficit of $2,678. He also had $31,000 in credit card debt and a $2,700 monthly mortgage payment.

"I was not given a severance package from my last employer at termination and I am not receiving any other income," wrote Pardo, who also was denied unemployment benefits. "I am desperately seeking work."

Instead, the court ordered Pardo to pay his ex-wife $1,785 a month in spousal support, plus $3,570 for past payments. When the divorce was settled, the court waived those payments and Bruce Pardo got the house _ but he also had to pay his ex-wife $10,000, return her valuable diamond wedding ring and give her custody of the dog.

Two days before the killings, he told his attorney he still was trying to come up with the money.

When Pardo's body was found, $17,000 was strapped to it, money he apparently planned to use to fund his escape to Canada. His mother, Nancy Windsor, told the Los Angeles Times that she wanted that money and any in her son's estate to be placed in a fund for the children of her former daughter-in-law.

"Anything that our family realized from Bruce's vehicle, from the money on him, whenever that's released, everything is going to my grandchildren," Windsor said.

 
 

'Santa Suit' Killer's Rampage Leaves Nine Dead in California

Blogs.discovery.com - The Criminal report Daily

December 29, 2008

Due to the actions of a single individual, at least 13 young people have been orphaned following a brutal massacre that occurred in Covina, California, on Christmas Eve.

Last Wednesday, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, donned a Santa costume and armed himself with four handguns and a flamethrower before knocking on the front door of a home owned by his ex-wife's parents.

According to police, an eight-year-old girl answered the door, at which time Pardo shot her in the face. Pardo then burst inside, interrupting a Christmas Eve party with a hail of gunfire. Sixteen of the 25 guests managed to make it outside, while the others, who never had a chance to react, were shot execution-style.

Once he was satisfied with the carnage he had inflicted on the unsuspecting family, Pardo took out a homemade pressurized device that he had disguised as a present and doused the interior of the house with a flammable cocktail made up of high-octane racing fuel and compressed air. Unfortunately for Pardo, his plan hit a snag when the vapor suddenly ignited. It remains unclear whether a pilot light or candle was the cause; however, the ensuing fire caused Pardo to suffer third-degree burns to his arms and legs. The heat was so intense that portions of the Santa costume melted onto Pardo's flesh.

Partygoers who had managed to escape, some with serious injury, immediately called 911 to report the shootings and fire.

"He's shooting my whole family. My mum's house is on fire," Pardo's ex-sister-in-law, Leticia, told the emergency dispatcher. "We need someone immediately. My daughter's been shot. She was shot in the face."

Unbeknownst to police and firefighters who arrived on the scene, a severely injured Pardo had already fled the area and was en route to his brother's house in Sylmar, roughly 25 miles from the scene of the shooting.

It took nearly 100 firefighters an hour and a half to finally get the blaze under control. During a walkthrough of the interior, investigators found the charred remains of three victims in the living room area. Not long thereafter, authorities found the remains of five additional victims.

At about 3:30 a.m., authorities were summoned to Pardo's brother's home. When officers arrived on the scene, they found Pardo dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Strapped to his body with plastic wrap and a girdle, police found $17,000 in cash and a plane ticket for a flight to Canada that was scheduled to leave on December 25.

Parked outside of his brother's house, police found the vehicle Pardo recently rented. Inside the vehicle, police found roughly 300 rounds of ammunition, a pipe bomb, a booby-trap that was rigged up to flare, and black powder. A bomb squad attempted to disarm the device; however, they were unsuccessful, and the car exploded. Luckily, no one was hurt during the incident. 

A second rental car, a gray 1999 Toyota RAV 4, was later found in Glendale. No explosives were found inside the second car; however, investigators did find a gas can, two computers, and a map of Mexico.

During a search of Pardo's house in Montrose, investigators found two shotguns, a canister of racing fuel, and five empty boxes of semi-automatic handgun ammunition.

On Friday, authorities searching the burned-out structure where Pardo's ex-in-laws lived found the charred remains of a ninth victim. The following day, the county coroner identified five of the victims as Pardo's ex-wife, Sylvia Pardo, 43; Sylvia's parents, Joseph Ortega, 80, and Alicia Ortega, 70; Sylvia's sister, Alicia Ortiz, 46; and her sister's son, Michael Ortiz, 17. The other victims, who have not yet been positively identified, are believed to be Sylvia's brother, Charles Ortega, 50; his wife, Cheri, 45; another brother, James, 52; and his wife, Teresa, 51.

Investigators believe Pardo killed his wife and her family because of a divorce settlement, which was finalized on December 18. In it, Pardo, who has been out of work since July, was ordered to pay his wife $10,000. He was also ordered to turn over the family pet and a valuable wedding ring. Pardo was granted ownership of the couple's $250,000 home; however, the equity in the home equaled only $106,000, leaving an unemployed Pardo with a mortgage of $2,700 a month. According to court documents, Pardo's monthly expenses totaled $8,900.

Pardo's friends have described him as a kind and gentle man who enjoyed his role as head usher at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Montrose. None of the people who knew him considered him capable of violence, and they would not have expected him to commit such acts as he did last week. Those who have chosen to speak to the media have speculated that his divorce, the loss of his job, and mounting debt pushed him over the edge.

Whatever the reason, nine innocent lives were taken, and 13 young people are now parentless because of Pardo's actions.

Amazingly, Pardo's first victim was not among the dead. Sylvia Pardo's eight-year-old niece survived her gunshot wound to the face and has since been released from the hospital. Unfortunately, her emotional wounds are not likely to heal quite as easily.

 
 

Santa gunman Bruce Jeffrey Pardo had longer hit list

NYDailyNews.com

Tuesday, December 30th 2008

COVINA, Calif. - The man who killed nine people at his former in-law's Christmas party while dressed as Santa Claus had plotted the attack several months ago and his hit list was longer than first thought.

Police said Monday that Bruce Pardo planned to also kill his mother and his ex-wife's divorce attorney but committed suicide before he could complete the task.

Authorities said his plan was thorough and detailed. Pardo had a getaway car, an airplane ticket to the Midwest, several guns, and high-powered ammunition only sold outside the state.

He launched the attack on Christmas Eve, putting on his Santa Claus suit, arming himself with four guns and barging into a party at his ex-relatives' home. He then killed nine people and torched the home.

Police Lt. Pat Buchanan said Pardo knew his mother had been invited to the party and intended to kill her because he felt she sided with his ex-wife in their divorce. Lucky for her, Buchanan said, she felt ill and opted to stay home.

His ex-wife's attorney also was apparently a target. Police Chief Kim Raney said Pardo left a rented vehicle near the attorney's Glendale home the day of the shooting and filled it with maps, clothes and a fuel tank.

But Pardo never made it to the vehicle. He was burned while torching the in-law's house and later killed himself at his brother's home.

If Pardo had lived, "his next destination was Glendale," Raney told hundreds of mourners who gathered at a local school Monday to offer each other comfort.

The residents, many wearing orange ribbons to remember the victims, gasped as Raney explained the latest details of the investigation. Raney pledged he would "try to bring sense to what was a senseless act."

The quiet community of backyard pools and wide boulevards was still coping with the bizarre and violent crime. Elderly women took notes on city officials' remarks from the meeting and women wiped tears from their eyes during a prayer.

Mayor Kevin Stapleton asked residents to respect the privacy of the surviving family members and their neighbors.

"I know people want to go by and see the location. But keep in mind that people live there and we need to get them some return to normalcy," Stapleton said.

County mental health counselors and trauma specialists distributed pamphlets and referrals, while neighbors hugged and shook their heads in grief and confusion.

David Singer, a psychiatrist and volunteer trauma therapist, advised parents on how to talk to children who might be confused and frightened by the idea of Santa Claus committing such a horrible crime

"He was so full of hate that he had to disguise his hate by dressing up as someone full of love — Santa Claus," Singer said.

Pardo had planned to eventually flee to Canada following the killing spree but suffered third-degree burns in the fire — which melted part of the Santa suit to him — and decided to kill himself instead, investigators said. His body, with a bullet wound to the head, was found at his brother's home about 40 miles away.

The rented compact car he had driven to his former in-laws' house was rigged to set off 500 rounds of ammunition and later exploded outside his brother's home. No one was injured.

Police found a second car rented by Pardo late Saturday, but Buchanan said the bomb squad did not find any explosives in that vehicle.

Not far from the school, the charred remnants of the destroyed home still smelled of smoke. A pile of votive candles, flower and stuffed animals lay outside a chain-link fence protecting the site.

Jill Amparan placed a bouquet of flowers on the curb and said a prayer with her friend, Elizabeth Chavez. Still dressed in their scrubs after leaving their jobs at a medical clinic, the women expressed anger at Pardo's actions.

"People die every day but the way this happened is awful," Amparan said.

Chavez said her 9-year-old daughter has been riveted by the story of a man dressed as Santa Claus committing such a horrible crime.

"She brought a newspaper article to day care to show her teacher," she said.

The whole incident left both women wondering what made Pardo so desperate to get back at his ex-wife by hurting the ones she loved.

"He had a house, friends, family and a church community. That's supposed to help you when things get bad," Amparan said.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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