Liz O. Baylen/ Los Angeles Times
On Saturday, December 27, people gathered in front of the remains of a Covina home that was torched by a disgruntled gunman after he killed nine people during a Christmas Eve rampage.
In the past few days relatives, neighbors, and strangers have walked to or driven to the bulldozed rubble of the Covina home where a gunman in a Santa suit killed nine members of the Ortega family on Christmas Eve before taking his own life. There is a makeshift memorial at the site, which continues to grow.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s officer has not confirmed the names of the dead who perished when Bruce Jeffrey Pardo stormed into his in-laws’ holiday party, shot up the place, and then set the home on fire. However, according to authorities the missing are Pardo’s ex-wife Sylvia, her parents Joseph and Alicia Ortega, her sister Alicia Ortiz, her nephew Michael Ortiz, her brother Charles Ortega, her brother James Ortega, and their wives Cheri and Teresa.
Pardo’s vengeful rampage on his ex-wife’s family has left more than a dozen children without parents and a Covina neighborhood in shock and grief. Efforts are underway to provide counseling for relatives and neighbors as well as firefighters and law enforcement who responded to the scene of the tragedy. There is a community meeting in Covina tonight to help people deal with some of these issues.
Meanwhile, more is coming out about Pardo’s deadly plan. On Saturday night, authorities found a second vehicle rented by Pardo. The grey 1999 Toyota Rav 4 was discovered on Glenoaks Boulevard in Glendale. Experts from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad were called to check out the Toyota. No explosives were discovered, so the vehicle was towed away.
Pardo’s first rental car was booby trapped. There was an explosion, but no one was injured. That vehicle was found near a Sylmar home where Pardo committed suicide. Pardo had been badly burned in the attack on the Ortega home and that apparently changed his plans. Pardo, an unemployed engineer and recently divorced, had a plane ticket for a flight from LAX to Canada and $17,000 in cash strapped to his body.