On Christmas Eve, eighty-year-old Joseph Ortega was throwing a party for his family. His children and grandchildren had gathered to celebrate the holiday together. What they did not expect was for Santa himself to come ring their doorbell. When the door was opened to reveal St. Nick himself, Ortega’s eight-year-old granddaughter ran excitedly toward him and was the first to receive one of his hellish gifts. A 9-millimeter round struck her face, wounding but fortunately not killing the child. After fatally shooting several of the partygoers, Santa unwrapped the gift he was carrying: a homemade flamethrower filled with racing fuel. He used this to set the house ablaze.
The massacre took 9 lives out of 25 attendees that night: eight by gunshot and one by fire. The psycho Santa turned out to be Bruce Pardo, the ex-husband of Ortega’s youngest daughter, Sylvia. The Pardos’ divorce had recently become final, and Bruce obviously was not taking it well. Though evidence shows that he had planned to flee to another part of the country, he decided to travel thirty miles to his brother’s then-unoccupied home in Sylmar, CA, to end his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Neighbors state that the Ortega family had a yearly tradition of having someone dress as Santa Claus to join them in their festivities. Police officials assume that Pardo may have known of this tradition and took advantage of this. Pardo had no criminal record and was known for being an outstanding student. His life would all come crashing down after being laid off from his computer engineering job and being required to pay his newly divorced wife $10,000 . When Pardo was found, he had $17,000 and a plane ticket to Canada. Pardo planned to flee to Canada but may have been in serious pain from third degree burns on both of his arms, a result of his homemade flamethrower device exploding during the tragic event and even causing parts of his Santa Suit to melt into his body.