Covina Massacre, the Santa Claus shooter


Ariana Brandon

On December 24 2008 Bruce Pardo walked into The Ortega family house, where a Christmas eve party was taking place, in a Santa Claus suit. 9 victims died of either an arson fire started in the house or gunfire. All of the deceased victims could only be identified through dental records because everyone was burned so badly. They each had a 9mm hole in usually in their head.  The first victim was a little girl named Katrina who ended up surviving. She Saw Bruce through the window thinking he was Santa and ran to the door to greet him. Once she opened the door he had a significant gift in hand and a 9 mm handgun in the other. He immediately started to fire into the house for a few minutes. Once he realized everyone was down he emptied the box which contained a racing fuel tank with a makeshift nozzle, basically a homeware flame thrower.

 While bruce is destroying the house one of the adults managed to escape and call the police, but the neighbors had already called the cops because at this point the whole neighborhood knew. Each neighbor reported something similar to the police. They each saw a man in a Santa suit arrive at the Oretgas’ house, walk in, gunshots and fire. Another neighbor said she saw someone drive away in a blue doge with all lights off. But that wasn’t the only murder that nice. Police were called to a house 40 miles away where a man, bruce pardo, was found with a 9 mm bullet through his head, a handgun in his lap, and one more on the floor.

Police speculated that there was more than one shooter and bruce tried to defend himself in the process, being shot and the shooter running away leaving the murder weapon behind. 

Sadly, they were wrong. Bruce was found in his brother’s house. His brother was the first to find him. The police did background searches on everyone, They started with bruce to see if there was a connection between him and the Ortega family. They found that when he graduated college he worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) – Robotic Space …  . It is said during the late 80s is when his life got rocky and he had messy relationships.  He eventually had a son with a woman named Elana. When Elena comes home her son is limp in his father’s arms. Bruce said baby Matthew had “gotten away and slipped into the pool”. He was rushed to the hospital and Matthew suffered brain damage and was diagnosed as paraplegic. Once his son had stabilized bruce stopped coming around and started dating and married other women. He married a woman named Sylvia who Eventually found out about his previous family. 

In 2008 Sylvia filed for divorce. In August and July 2008 Bruce bought two handguns, then two more in September and October. You might be asking, “what does any of this have to do with anything.” Well as the police were digging they also looked into Sylvia’s past as well, finding that her maiden name was Ortega. And she was one of the 10 massacre victims that night. Their divorce was finalized a week before the massacre.

He also bought one more gun a month before the divorce. Once they checked the brother’s house again. They found two guns in the car and one strapped to bruce’s leg and they were all registered under Bruce’s name. So any thought of multiple shooters had gone out the window. One of his brother’s neighbors called the police again over a suspicious car outside, This just so happened to be the same car that was seen leaving the Ortega’s house. The plates said it was a rental rented a week earlier by bruce. Inside was a Santa suit. As soon as they lifted it the suit caught on fire.

Which made everyone think bruce rigged it. They also found a plane ticket to Iowa along with another rental which they located and had food, guns, ammo, and a map of the U.S. and Mexico border. Latter on Laticia, a woman from the party, was able to confirm that the man at the party was bruce. It also wondered why bruce didn’t flee to Mexico or Iowa as he planned. He also had a list of others he wanted to kill. It’s believed that the racing fuel set him on fire as well, and he was in so much pain he decided just to end his life. Again there are just rumors, but I think it sums it up pretty well.