A ninth body was found in the charred ruins of the house in Covina, California, where a Christmas Eve massacre took place. According to CNN, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office reported that a ninth person was found in the rubble of the house that was set ablaze by Santa shooter Bruce Pardo Wednesday night. Pardo, recently divorced from his wife, arrived at his in-laws’ house during a Christmas party dressed in a Santa suit and began shooting. It was originally thought that he had killed eight people, including his wife and in-laws. The ninth person had originally been listed as missing. None of the bodies pulled from the ruined house have as yet been identified.
Bruce Pardo, 45, lost his house, his dog, and at least $10,000 in a divorce settlement to his wife just last week, according to various reports. Still, according to his neighbors, he was a nice guy. His next-door neighbor even said he had told him “Merry Christmas” just hours before the shooting rampage.
About two hours later, Pardo knocked on the door of his in-laws house 25 miles away dressed in a Santa suit. He was carrying a package. When an 8-year-old girl answered the door, Pardo shot her in the face and began firing into the crowded house. Police say that about 25 people were in attendance at the party.
Covina police chief Kim Raney said, according to various media, “The information we have so far is that Mr. Pardo was married to the daughter of the resident of the house. 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.”
Eyewitness accounts describe people jumping out of windows on both floors of the house in an attempt to escape the gunfire and, later, the flames. One 20-year-old woman broke an ankle leaping from a second-floor window. The package the Santa shooter had been carrying was a homemade pressurized device full of accelerant that he used to set the house of fire. After lighting the accelerant, Pardo left the house.
Pardo took off the Santa suit before he fled in his vehicle. The Santa shooter was found Christmas morning at his brother’s house in Sylmar, an apparent suicide.
The Christmas Eve Santa massacre, unfortunately, is not an isolated act. People involved in bitter divorces, unable to deal with the proceedings, the settlements, or for other reasons sometimes resolve their issues with their spouses through acts of violence.
A successful businesswoman, Tanya McCall, was shot and killed by her estranged husband in front of 100 parishioners at Acts Full Gospel Church in Oakland in March 2007. Previous to her murder, according to SFGate.com, McCall had offered to her husband half of the six jointly owned houses they shared. He had refused. Matthew McCall was later arrested. The couple had been married for 20 years.
LSAT.com reported that on November 4, 2008, in San Antonio, Texas, Hipolito Mendez shot his estranged wife several times before turning the gun on himself. Mendez died from two gunshot wounds to the chest. His wife survived.
But all acrimonious separations and/or divorces do not end in murder. Some simply end in a destructive act. In March 2007, Reuters reported that a man in Sonneberg, Germany, sawed his house in half and carried his half, via forklift, to his brother’s house, where he had been staying. Authorities say that his wife was not pleased with his interpretation of the divorce.
The divorce of Bruce Pardo and Sylvia Pardo ended far more contentiously and acrimoniously than many thought. Although violence is sometimes used by the opposing parties, mass murder is rarely chosen as an option for settling a grievance.
The 8-year-old that suffered a gunshot wound to the face was taken to the hospital. Officials say her wound is extensive. She will survive.