On Christmas Eve, when families gathered together to enjoy the holidays and to celebrate the season, the small suburb of Covina, 25 miles from Los Angeles, received news of a devastating tragedy right in their neighborhood: a "Santa Gunman" had killed nine family members and torched their house to the ground. This year's Christmas celebration turned into a tragedy that the Ortega family will never forget. At approximately 11:30 p.m., 45-year-old Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, dressed in a Santa Claus suit, showed up at the doorstep of his former in-laws' home, where his ex-wife, Slyvia Pardo, and her three children by a prior marriage, had been living for the past year.
This Santa Gunman wasn't there to deliver presents or to spread joy. Bruce Pardo (pictured above) was armed with 4 pistols and a flame thrower containing racing fuel. This man came to seek revenge on his ex-wife. It was apparent Pardo didn't care who got in his way or who he was going to hurt or kill. He was a cowardly man who shot an 8-year-old girl in the face when she opened the door to Santa. Pardo also fired a gun into the back of a 16-year-old girl. He continued shooting towards the 25 family members and friends who were at the house and then sprayed racing fuel all around the house, setting the home on fire.
Next, Pardo drove to his brother's house in San Fernando Valley and killed himself. At three in the morning on Christmas Day, the mass murderer's brother, Brad Pardo, found Jeffrey dead with a gunshot wound to the head. Police discovered $17,000 strapped to Pardo's body and a plane ticket to Canada. Unfortunately enough, this Christmas present of Pardo killing himself didn't come soon enough for the Ortega family.
Police stated the vehicle found outside Pardo brother's house was tripwired to set off 500 rounds of ammunition. A second vehicle was recovered in Glendale, California on December 28, but no explosives were found. By early Christmas morning, the house was engulfed in flames and 9 family members were killed. According to the authorities, the bodies were so charred that they were not able to make any identifications at the scene.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Bruce and Sylvia married in 2006. However, Sylvia filed for divorce after discovering that for the past several years, Bruce Pardo had been claiming his brain-damaged son from a previous relationship as a tax exemption. Also, in July 2008, Pardo lost his job in with ITT. He had accumulated extensive debt. The final divorce settlement ordered Pardo to pay $10,000 to Sylvia and to give back the diamond ring and custody of the dog.
From the scene, it was apparent that Pardo had been planning the massacre for several months. He rented the Santa Claus suit earlier in September asking for a extra large suit to hide "big presents."
The 9 family members who were killed were Sylvia Pardo; her parents, Alicia and Joseph Ortega (70 and 80 years old); Teresa and James Ortega (51 and 52); Cheri and Charles Ortega (45 and 50); and Alicia Ortiz and her 17-year-old son, Michael. As a result of this tragedy, 16 children were left without one or both parents. The 8- and 16-year-old girls miraculously survived the shooting and are recovering from the injuries.
The facts and evidence of this multiple homicide-suicide will be documented. But the question of why Pardo resorted to that level of violence—rather than, say, simply taking his own life instead of embarking on a complicated killing spree—will remain incomprehensible.