Bruce Pardo, 45, showed up dressed as Santa Claus at a Christmas Eve party of his estranged wife's family, opened fire with a handgun and set the house on fire. At least six bodies have been recovered, police said today. Pardo later killed himself at his brother's house in Sylmar. The New York Times says, "Officers said they responded to a burst of 911 calls, and arrived at the scene moments later to find the house on fire and shots still being fired inside. They said they initially kept firefighters from getting too close until it appeared that the shooting had stopped."
Man in Santa suit kills at least 5 at holiday party NYT 12:27 p.m.
Man in Santa suit kills at least three at Covina party, police say LAT 1:19 p.m.
Man in Santa suit kills three people at a Covina Christmas party SGV Tribune via AP 9:54 a.m.
10 p.m. update: The death toll in Covina is at least eight, including Pardo's ex-wife and her parents, who owned the home. At least two children who were shot survived. The staff-written New York Times story goes with a hard lede, while the LAT's narrative lede (on the website) makes it difficult to find out what happened:
By SOLOMON MOORE and ANAHAD O’CONNOR
COVINA, Calif. — A man in a Santa Claus outfit opened fire on a Christmas Eve gathering of his in-laws in this Los Angeles suburb and then methodically set their house ablaze, killing at least eight people and injuring several others, the authorities said Thursday.
Shortly after the attack, the gunman, identified as Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, killed himself with a single shot to the head at the home of his brother in the Sylmar section of Los Angeles, the police said.
In addition to the eight people whose bodies were found in the ashes of the house here, none of whom were identified, at least one other person was thought to be missing, and perhaps as many as three.
By Ari B. Bloomekatz, Tami Abdollah and Joel Rubin
As he had in years past, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo volunteered to serve as an usher at his church's midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
Pardo, however, was miles away from the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church as the religious service got underway. He drove a rental car from his home in Montrose to the Covina home of his ex-wife's parents. Shortly before 11:30 p.m., dressed as Santa Claus, he approached the front door with a large, wrapped package.
Inside the two-story home at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, his ex-wife, her parents and about two dozen others were enjoying their annual holiday party.
An 8-year-old girl ran to answer his knock. When the door swung open, Pardo, 45, shot her in the face with a semiautomatic handgun, stepped into the house and opened fire on the revelers. Amid the chaos, he doused the house with a flammable liquid contained in the package -- a pressurized fuel tank, about 2 1/2 feet tall.
Partygoers fled in panic as the house on Knollcrest Drive went up in flames. They ran to neighbors' homes and frantically called 911. A young woman, according to a neighbor, leaped out of a second-floor window, breaking her ankle.