Friday, December 26, 2008

California Santa Claus Massacre, Fire, 10 Dead

Apparently roiling with rage about financial troubles and pending finalization of his divorce, a man bought a plane ticket to Canada, strapped $17,000 to his leg, dressed up in a Santa suit, wrapped fire-starter supplies up as a Christmas gift, loaded his guns and played for keeps when he showed up at his in-laws' home Christmas Eve in Corvina, Ca. Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, shot an 8-year-old girl in the face first when she answered the door happy to see Santa and escalated his rampage to shooting others, burning down his in-laws' home, and killing himself after suffering third-degree burns from starting the fire, report news sources.

In total, 10 people have been confirmed dead, reports one news source, and three were injured.
He sprayed the living room with bullets. ... Nearly 25 friends and family members were at the home for an annual Christmas party.

Some ran, some took cover under furniture, some broke windows in an effort to escape -- one woman jumped from the second-story of the home, police said.

Neighbors heard gunfire and called 911 shortly before 11:30 p.m. Police said they arrived within three minutes to find the home engulfed in flames. (CNN)The little girl is recovering. The bullet went straight through her face.
The CNN video below tells how events unfolded.

A later CNN story tells more about the massacre:
Raney said people at the party were jumping out of windows on both floors of the house trying to escape the gunfire and flames.

"The information we have so far is that Mr. Pardo was married to the daughter of the resident of the house," Raney said. "They'd been married for possibly one year, had recently divorced and a settlement was reached apparently last week. It sounds like that might have been a very contentious divorce."

Investigators have yet to identify the charred bodies recovered from the burned house, which belonged to Pardo's ex-in-laws. (CNN)
It doesn't appear Pardo was the stereotypical silent type associated with people who go nuts and shoot their families and friends:
Pardo's neighbors talked to KABC on Thursday as they watched police search his home.

"He's very nice, very sociable," Cindy Keenan said. She said Pardo always decorated his home for the holidays.

Patrick Guzman said when he encountered Pardo in his yard about two hours before the attack, "He seemed normal."

"He said 'Merry Christmas' to me," Guzman said. (CNN)
The neighbors thought he was a nice guy, but the CNN story has text from the 911 call in which victims discovered Pardo was far from nice.

CBS2 in California reports 10 people have been confirmed dead versus the nine CNN reports. The local station also reports that "Before (his) suicide, Pardo used remnants of the Santa suit to booby-trap his rental car to explode, the chief said."

In addition, the CBS story has details from court records about the Pardo divorce. It sounds like the man was stressing over money and loss. Repeatedly people say he showed no sign of mental disorder, and what does that prove? People don't always recognize when others are in distress.
His attorney, Stanley Silver, told The Associated Press his client had trouble making the support payments after he lost his job in July, but spousal support was waived in the settlement last week.

Bruce Pardo was trying to pay $10,000 to finalize the divorce proceedings, Silver said, and he never showed any anger or instability.

"All of my dealings with him were always pleasant and cheerful," said Silver, who heard from him last on Tuesday.

Friends and neighbors described Bruce Pardo as a cheerful man who seemed upbeat and doted on a big, brown Akita he owned with his former wife. (CBS2)
Even if people had recognized the signs of mental distress in Pardo, if the signs were subtle and not blatant, most likely little would have been done to stop him from exploding. They're making comments about Pardo such as "he showed no signs of anger or instability." Even if he had shown anger, most people wouldn't have thought he was going to show up and shoot people and burn down his in-laws' home.

Based on my experience, an estranged spouse who's escalating to violence usually has to physically assault the object of his/her anger before domestic violence threats are taken seriously or people really believe he/she's unstable, and even then some people will make excuses for the threatening behavior such as, "Well, you'd be angry too if your spouse was taking half your hard-earned money."

And the system frequently responds as though its as helpless as the victim sometimes to prevent violence. Judges may prefer to believe a concerned spouse is lying on the threatening partner rather than err on the side that the accused is a threat.

I've also observed that certain kinds of personalities, both male and female, can hide their rage and appear to be rays of sunshine. It's even scarier when you live with such a person and later realize they hate you. They really do.


Cheechat said...

Why must you show his picture? Why must we look at his face?

A needless tragedy, yet there is no doubt that he was mercilessly taunted by the ex-wife. Ridiculed and demeaned. Verbally abused in front of the children. Absolutely no doubt. And the monthly spousal expenses dropped? Sure, probably in exchange for full custody.

Life is stupid. Why do we bring our beautiful children into the world when we know they will eventually die? There is no happy death, yet we idiot humans continue to bring new life into the world. For what - to continue the race? Irrational!

Please fate, smile upon my children.

Vérité Parlant said...

I showed his picture so people can see he looks like an average guy. So often men and women who commit acts of domestic violence look like the people next door and not like Charles Manson maniacs.

You jump to a lot of conclusions about the wife as though you think she brought this on. Is that what you mean to say? Where's that coming from?

They were married for such a short period of time, we're not even sure the children were his children, so why would there have been a custody battle? Lots of assumptions.

For all you know the man could have been unstable when she met him and married him and she didn't realize he was a jealous lunatic until she was in the marriage. Otherwise, you're assuming this woman has all these faults and the only person who clearly had a mental defect is the man who shot a little girl in the face, shot more people, and burned down a house full of people. What's up with that? And I don't see what bringing children into the world has to do with one disturbed man deciding to kill his family.

Pardo was filled with rage and hate. Imagine how long it took to plan this, the details involved. A sane person would've stopped obsessing and gone to seek mental help when he realized the thoughts plaguing his mind.

He couldn't handle the stress of losing his job and losing his family. He reportedly was a very jealous man who couldn't deal with rejection or loss. He needed help, but didn't get it and we don't know why that is. Maybe he refused help. Who knows?

But what you say reminds me of the kind of stuff people say when they hear a man has raped a woman. They launch into how she was "probably" dressed or maybe taunted him. Why can't you just say people should have self-control and not act out against other people with violence? End of story.