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  • Divorce sparked Santa's killing spree
  • News Dot Com
  • 27/12/2008 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: The Rooster ( 264 articles in 2008 )
DETAILS have emerged about the gunman in a Christmas Eve massacre that left eight people dead as investigators picked through the charred wreckage of his deadly killing spree.

The quiet Los Angeles suburb of Covina remained shell-shocked, just over a day after Bruce Pardo, 45, burst into a party at his former in-laws dressed in a Santa Claus costume and opened fire before later taking his own life.

Pardo had recently gone through a bitter divorce with his wife of a year - who was reported to be among the victims - but there were no further clues as to what may have triggered the murderous rampage.

The unemployed aerospace engineer had no criminal record and nothing in his personal history to suggest a predisposition to violence, police said. Friends from a church Pardo attended regularly expressed disbelief.

"He was just the nicest guy," said Jan Detanna, who worked with Pardo as an usher at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church told the Whittier Daily News.

"He always had a smile. It's a shock. A shock for anybody who knew him at the church."

Grief-stricken friends of the victims on Thursday described Pardo as a "coward".

"To know that one individual, one coward, could bring so much devastation and heartache to a family," said family friend Rosa Ordaz.

Police said Pardo knocked on the door of his ex-wife's parents' home just before midnight, where 25 people were gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve.

An eight-year-old girl who answered the door was shot in the face before Pardo stormed into the home and began spraying revelers with bullets fired from a semi-automatic handgun.

After partygoers fled, Pardo torched the house with a bizarre home-made incendiary device before making his getaway.

Pardo's body was found with self-inflicted gunshot wounds early on Thursday, a few hours after the rampage, police said. He had been killed by a single shot to the head at his brother's home in Sylmar, about 40km away.

Late on Thursday, a rented car parked outside the property was found to contain 300 rounds of ammunition and a pipe bomb. The car burst into flames as bomb disposal experts moved in, reports said.

Police had received a series of emergency calls alerting them to the initial incident, and when they arrived the house was engulfed in flames and guests were running out, Buchanan said.

Neighbours reported hearing a loud explosion before the blaze erupted.

Two girls, including the eight-year-old who answered the door, were hospitalised with gunshot wounds and a 13-year-old girl was treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.

Eight bodies, many burnt beyond recognition, were later recovered from the wreckage of the house. Authorities have yet to publicly identify the victims, but local media reported Pardo's wife and in-laws were among the dead.

It was not clear if three people at the party who were missing on Thursday had been accounted for.


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