Ninth Body Found in Christmas Eve Massacre

Gunman who killed 9 on Christmas Eve intended to flee to Canada.

December 26, 2008, 10:29 AM

Dec. 26, 2008 — -- Another body was found Friday morning in the Covina, Calif., home that was the site of a Christmas Eve massacre, bringing the death toll to nine, a Los Angeles County coroner's official told the Associated Press today.

Police say Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, dressed in a Santa Claus costume, opened fire at a crowded Christmas Eve party before lighting a fire at the home of his former in-laws Wednesday.

The suspected "Santa shooter" took his own life hours later and had booby-trapped his rental car with explosives. Pardo was carrying $10,000 and a plane ticket out of the country when he died, police told ABC News.

Police found three charred bodies in the living room, and five more bodies were found later. The ninth body was found in the most recent search this morning. None of the bodies have been identified. Pardo's former wife, Sylvia Pardo, and her parents have yet to be accounted for.

Pardo was reportedly distraught over his recent divorce.

According to court documents, Sylvia Pardo filed to dissolve the two-year marriage in March, citing irreconcilable differences. The couple reached a settlement Dec. 18, a week before the shootings. Sylvia Pardo received the dog, some jewelry and $10,000 in the settlement agreement. Bruce Pardo got the couple's house.

In June, a court ordered Bruce Pardo to pay $1,785 a month in spousal support and put him on a payment plan of $450 a month for $3,570 that was unpaid, according to the Associated Press.

Pardo's attorney said the man had trouble making the payments after he lost his job in July, but spousal support was waived in the settlement signed earlier this month, the AP reported.

Police have begun searching his home in the nearby Los Angeles community of Montrose, looking for more clues to a motive.

Police said witnesses told them Pardo began shooting as soon as the front door opened.

"An 8-year-old female was running toward him, at which time she was shot in the face," Lt. Pat Buchanan of the Covina Police Department said in a press conference. "He fired multiple rounds into the people attending the party, and multiple people were struck."

When officers first arrived at the still-burning house, "they were met with a scene that was just indescribable," Police Chief Kim Raney said Wednesday.

The 8-year old girl survived the shooting with severe injuries to the face, but nine others did not. Pardo reportedly sprayed a flammable liquid around the house using a homemade device, setting it ablaze. He had hidden the canister containing the liquid in what appeared to be a large, gift-wrapped present.

Some partygoers ran out the back door while at least one woman ran upstairs and jumped off the roof to escape, reportedly breaking her leg in the process.

'Santa Shooter' Flees the Scene

Neighbor Jan Gregory told the AP she saw a teenage boy flee the home, screaming, "They shot my family!"

Witnesses reported Pardo took off the Santa costume and fled the scene.

When police arrived just before midnight on Christmas Eve, the house was already in flames. The fire was not put out until about two hours later.

Hours later, Pardo committed suicide in his brother's home in Sylmar, Calif., where he was found with $10,000 in cash, police said.

Police also found a key to a rental car on Pardo's body and found the car a short distance from his brother's house, according to a report by ABC's Los Angeles affiliate, KABC.

Along with additional ammunition, detectives noticed a suspicious device in the car and called in the bomb squad to defuse what police believed was a pipe bomb. After the bomb squad arrived the bomb was ignited, though no one was hurt in the incident.

Pardo, who had no criminal record or history of violence, is believed to have been going through "marital problems," Buchanan said. Of the couple's split, Buchanan said, "It was not an amicable divorce."

Pardo had been scheduled to serve as an usher for the midnight mass at the Holy Redeemer Church on Christmas. The chief usher, Jan Detanna, told the Los Angeles Times, "This is shocking. ... He was the nicest guy you could imagine. Always a pleasure to talk to, always a big smile."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.