Skip to comments.Santa gunman was in bitter divorce, lost job
Posted on 12/27/2008 9:37:19 AM PST by Maelstorm
COVINA, Calif. - A man who carried out a Christmas Eve massacre and arson dressed as Santa at the home of his former in-laws apparently intended to flee the U.S., but his plans were dashed after the inferno he created severely burned his arms and melted his red costume onto his body, police said Friday.
Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, a laid-off aerospace worker, apparently shot some of his nine victims execution-style in a plot to destroy his ex-wife's family after a costly divorce that was finalized last week. He had an airline ticket for a Christmas morning flight to Canada and $17,000 in cash on his body, some attached to his legs with plastic wrap and some in a girdle, Covina police Chief Kim Raney said. He did not know the Canadian destination.
Armed with four guns, wearing the Santa suit and carrying a fuel-spraying device wrapped like a present, Pardo showed up at the home at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday as a party of about 25 people was under way.
Raney said Pardo, 45, fired a shot into the face of an 8-year-old girl who answered the door and at first fired indiscriminately, then apparently targeted relatives of his ex-wife as other guests fled.
"There's some information that he stood over them and shot them execution-style," Raney said.
Pardo retreated to the front door and retrieved a device that mixed carbon dioxide or oxygen with high-octane racing fuel, police said. Fleeing guests saw him spraying the fuel inside the house when the vapor was ignited, possibly by a pilot light or a candle, and exploded.
"Mr. Pardo was severely injured during that explosion," Raney said. "He suffered third-degree burns on both arms and it also appears that the Santa Claus suit that he was wearing did melt onto his body."
(Excerpt) Read more at startribune.com ...
“When you put on the Santa suit, spark up the flamethrower and start shooting children in the face, setting in motion an event that culminates in a blood-soaked inferno, you’ve pretty much nullified the “feel sorry for me because I got screwed in the divorce” argument.”
The $17 grand and plane tickets don’t help his case either.
I’m wondering if maybe brother is very thankful he didn’t happen to be home?
My first thought is that a guy driving those vehicles isn't likely to go broke over a $10,000 settlement.
My second thought is that those are sort of "in your face" vehicles. Remember the commercials marketing the Hummer with those "when you drive this, you don't have to take any crap off anybody and you won't be a wimp anymore" scenarios?
“My first thought is that a guy driving those vehicles isn’t likely to go broke over a $10,000 settlement.”
It would seem so yes. Which makes me think it isn’t about the money at all - and often this sort of thing is not “solely” about money. Money can certainly be a part of it. But there is also loss of control, jealousy, anger, and rage at having been left behind.
My guess is that this would have happened even if all the legal issues had swung his way.
Betcha the Santa suit was made in China with of course, very flammable materials.
Except the divorce settlement in this case wasn’t brutal at all. It was modest by most any standard. The complaint that she was “ taking him to the cleaners” was as irrational as his decision to harm others, even innocents who had never crossed him in any way.
She was paying family expenses with her salary, and helped him accumulate savings. It turns out Pardo ran down assets deliberately to cheat her of any claim to them; he spent or hid over 60,000 dollars in less than two months ( prior to his job loss), deliberately ran up credit card debt, and delayed maintenance and repair on his home to depress its value.
The drowning is suspicious in hindsight. It can’t be argued that he was a lovable goof incapable of murder.
Or that he was the “best of parents”...the abandonment of the child who suffered from his (best case scenario) lapse in supervision, and he was even willing to profit off of a child he was unwilling to support in any material or emotional way.
I’m not so inclined to view that event in the light most favorable to Bruce Pardo. He had a track record of manipulation and deceit, and there are accounts of that event with squirrely details.
Was he capable of either deliberately, or “accidentally on purpose” helping the near-drowning along? If annoyed, crossed, or feeling taken advantage of by a woman, was he capable of hatching a fantasy where his “unfair” situation is relieved and he gets away with it....and capable of ACTING on it?
Was he capable of harming innocent children to get his way?
Since those questions are answerable in hindsight, and not in his favor, a look to the circumstances of the drowning accident might look different in hingsight, too.
I am suspicious he tossed the kid in the pool, because the kid was just a crawler and he was the sort of man who would do unethical things to relieve himself of obligation. Short of that, he might well have passive-aggressively refused to supervise the baby, or left the sliding door to the pool open, just “oh please O please” -ing like that golden retriever in the famous Farside cartoon of the dog luring a cat into a washing machine with crude CAT FUD signs.
The mother’s account has her arriving home from a short trip to the grocery store to find Pardo “frantically holding” the boy. He had not called Emergency Response. He had not attempted any sort of resuscitation. Instead of calling for help to arrive to the home, he insisted they DRIVE to a hospital for help...
EMT’s at the hospital were able to resuscitate the child, who had appeared lifeless.
I am curious about his change in attitude towards his wife just after their marriage, as related by Sylvia’s best friend and confidante for 30 years.
Sylvia was hearbroken and mystified by the Jekyll/Hyde change from laughing, loving, affectionate partner, to what he became shortly after marriage. She complained that he had become cold and distant: he was suddenly aloof, uncaring or indifferent; also in financial matters he wanted to act as if they were not married, with completely separate accounts, and expected her to cover all “her” expenses, and family expenses, herself, without any help from him.
She could not understand what had affected such a change and came to believe he no longer loved her...when she found out about the child he had concealed when she came across the tax papers, she confronted him...and he lied to her face about it. She called his mom who told her the sad story of that child. That was her breaking point.
She told him she wanted a divorce, and he made no protest or objection, so Sylvia told her friend “See? I was right. He really doesn’t love me anymore” and Bruce Pardo very calmly put her things out of the house and told her to leave.
(Pardo also lied, in an almost comically transparent way, to a judge about putting the things out of the house, claiming he was just “rearranging the living room”, in documents filed with the court).
What would cause a newly married man to suddenly go cold and withdrawn, after being a loving partner and choosing to marry?
All sorts of ideas about mental illness or whatever ...but I wonder if his affection for her was ever real, or if he had an ulterior motive for marrying.
He wouldn’t be the first sociopath who married in order to achieve some sort of secondary gain through deception.
I don’t know why this keeps occurring to me, since there has been nothing about it said anywhere, but I wonder if he asked her to put him on her life insurance, but she decided to keep her children as the main beneficiaries. Did he just decide he wanted out the minute he got married? Had he been hatching a scheme now thwarted?
He was drawing down , hiding family assets well before she told him she was leaving; he seemed to want out himself. So very peculiar.
Now here is a wilder suggestion, much wilder even than suggesting he had more than mere negligent involvement in his son’s accident:
He was planning his “Christmas Party” well before he was even fired, buying up guns. He bore ill will towards his mother.
Do you think it is possible, as I do, that he “tested” his fuel-air device in the Sylmar area? Both brother and mother lived in the area - and she lost her home in the Sylmar fires. Could a man who intended to shoot and burn his mother at a Christmas party, have set a fire in the area, maybe hoping his mother would be among the victims and that none would be the wiser?
I’ve never read anything indicating the Sylmar fires were anything but wildfires boosted by high wind conditions. But I wonder all the same.
Would it really be beyond the pale for him to test his device, and to do so in Sylmar?
wow - I hadn’t read that about the disintegration of the marriage.
Certainly, anyone who would commit such an unspeakable act would have a few screws loose. Sociopath? Who know? Very likely.
I hadn’t thought about the time and effort that must have gone into designing that “flame thrower”, but you are right.
That would have taken some planning - and testing.
"... like a nuclear bomb went off" or a fuel-air bomb? If there was anyone to rule out as a suspect, I have to think it would be Pardo.
He had a murderous grudge against an area resident, a fuel-air device to test, familiarity with the area, and the requisite lack of regard for human life and the rights of others.
The fire was set (if it was set) when other fires were going on higher in the hills. There is speculation that the leaping flames in the hills might have "inspired" the mobile home park arson. If it were Pardo's flame thrower at work, perhaps is was less "inspiration" than a perfect cover to take revenge on his mother.
Investigators took note of the ferocity of the mobile home park, and noted its unusual intensity as a factor in the arson investigation. I have to think that investigators are now quietly investigating the possibility of Bruce Pardo's involvement in the Mobile home park blaze, if only to rule him out.
I didn’t know he had a grudge against mom too.
Looks like the theory he was a great guy until he snapped from the pressure of an unfair divorce settlement just went “poof”.