Bruce Pardo was not headed to Canada after all. The Santa shooter, the man who killed nine people at a Covina, California Christmas Eve party, was booked on an Air Canada flight early Christmas morning, but his destination was not Canada. Instead, Bruce Pardo was headed to Iowa.
Police initially believed that Bruce Pardo was headed to Canada after he perpetrated the Christmas Eve massacre at his ex-in-laws’ house but later found that assumption to be false. CNN reported Saturday that the Air Canada flight was to take Pardo to Minneapolis, where he would catch a connecting flight to Moline, Illinois. He was to pick up a rental car there and proceed to Iowa to visit a friend.
Pieces of the puzzle that was the troubled life of Bruce Pardo are being put together as Covina police and other California authorities investigate the horrific series of events that occurred Wednesday night, December 24. Pardo, an unemployed engineer and recently divorced, showed up at the home of Joseph and Alicia Ortega, his former in-laws, dressed in a Santa suit and began shooting. A device that had been packaged to resemble a present was then used to fill the home with an accelerant. It is believed that the Santa shooter himself did not set the subsequent blaze but that some other source was the cause of the explosion that initiated the flames.
The unexpected explosion also burned parts of the Santa suit into Pardo’s flesh. Pardo suffered third degree burns and was seriously wounded, according to police reports. Much of this information was ascertained from Pardo’s body when police found it several hours after the Christmas Eve massacre at his brother’s house in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles. Pardo had shot himself in the head. To his body was strapped $17,000 in cash.
Nine people, including his ex-wife, lay dead in the smoking ruins of the Ortega house in Covina.
It is unclear if Bruce Pardo changed his mind about his trip to Iowa following the Christmas Eve massacre because of an attack of conscience or because the pain from his wounds became unbearable. He may have changed his mind for neither reason, having a reason fathomable only to Bruce Pardo.
That Pardo was an individual with abnormal thought processes became apparent to his then wife Sylvia Pardo, according to the Los Angeles Times, when she discovered that the 45-year-old engineer had abandoned a brain-dead child from a previous marriage and was claiming the child on his income tax returns. Shortly afterward, in February 2008, Sylvia Pardo separated from Bruce Pardo and asked for a divorce. The two had been married for just over two years.
But abnormal thinking or no, Bruce Pardo had not intended to commit suicide when he originally laid out his detailed plan of mass murder. The airline tickets, the cash strapped to his legs and placed in a girdle, the rental cars all point to a plan where Pardo believed he would not only get away with the Christmas Eve massacre but would also be able to fade into the American landscape.
Some would call that delusional thinking, that to think that such a heinous crime would not be investigated with the utmost tenacity to capture the killer of so many people. Some of those that knew Pardo would have thought the man incapable of couching such thoughts altogether. But events have transpired that show that Pardo was not quite as he seemed to many and a bit disturbing to a few, such as Sylvia Pardo. But he was able to entertain such thoughts – and to actualize them. In fact, the more that is found out about Pardo’s past and the days leading up to the Christmas Eve massacre, the more Bruce Pardo looks more and more like a cold, calculating psychopath.