Bruce Pardo PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 January 2009 11:22

Pat BuchananBruce Jeffrey Pardo

Born: 1963

Died: 25 December, 2008, Sylmar, California.

Age: 45

Cause of death: Gunshot wound to head.

Notable because: His Catholic faith did not prevent him from dressing up as Santa and killing 9 people on Christmas eve. 


The Covina, California Santa Claus 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 after the attack in another household. 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. Victims included Pardo's ex-wife and his former in-laws.

At about 11:30 p.m., 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 8-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 fuel tank gasoline to set the home ablaze. Nine people died from either gunfire or flames, and three others were wounded: an 8-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 is being done by referencing dental and medical records.

The homemade flamethrower used to set the blaze.

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 and he broke inside to enter in. 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 subsequent reporting on CNN indicated that the flight was on Air Canada airlines from Los Angeles to Moline, Illinois (with a layover in Minnesota) where Pardo planned to visit a high school friend for two weeks. The CNN report also indicated that Pardo had visited this high school friend and played with this person's children as recently as 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.

At least three victims' deaths were caused from only gunshot wounds, while four others died from both gunshot wounds and fire, and two other deaths stemming from only the fire. The victims include:

  • Sylvia Pardo, 43, Pardo's ex-wife
  • Alicia Ortega, 70, Sylvia Pardo's mother
  • Joseph Ortega, 80, Sylvia Pardo's father
  • Charles Ortega, 50, Sylvia Pardo's brother
  • Cheri Ortega, 45, Charles Ortega's wife
  • James "Junior" Ortega, 52, Sylvia Pardo's brother
  • Teresa Ortega, 51, James Ortega's wife
  • Alicia Ortiz, 46, Sylvia Pardo's sister
  • Michael Ortiz, 17, Sylvia Pardo's nephew (Alicia's son)

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 also lost 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 ago. Pardo kept this child a secret from his wife.

The couple grew apart soon after their marriage, when Mr.Pardo refused to open joint account with Mrs.Pardo, also expected Ms.Pardo to take care of her own three children with her own finance. 

In June 2008, divorce court had ordered Bruce Pardo to pay $1,785 a month in spousal support; In July Mr. Pardo lost his engineer job. During the divorce proceeding, Bruce Pardo had confined to a friend his wife was "taking him to the cleaner" 

It was revealed that he had plans to kill his own mother due to her apparent sympathy for Sylvia Pardo during the divorce. 

Pardo owed her $10,000 as part of the divorce settlement, according to court documents that detailed a bitter split. He also lost a dog he doted on and did not get back a valuable wedding ring. Pardo complained in a court declaration that Sylvia Pardo 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.


Last Updated on Sunday, 04 January 2009 11:35

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