Saturday, December 27, 2008

Community reels after grisly 'Santa' massacre kills 9

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — A gunman dressed as Santa Claus who opened fire on a Christmas Eve party at the home of his ex-wife's family was planning to flee to Canada, police said, as a ninth body was recovered from the charred wreckage of the massacre.

Police said Bruce Pardo, 45, was found with 17,000 dollars taped to his body and a plane ticket to Canada after he killed himself following his murderous assault on the home of his former in-laws in the Los Angeles suburb of Covina.

The unemployed aerospace engineer burst into the property armed with four pistols shortly before midnight Wednesday and sprayed guests with bullets before the house erupted in flames.

The house was owned by James and Alicia Ortega, an elderly couple who were retired from their spray-painting business and who often invited their extended family to celebrate Christmas.

An eight-year-old girl who had opened the door to Pardo was shot in the face but survived. Later Friday, police released harrowing 9/11 calls apparently made by the girl's mother immediately after the incident.

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