Death Toll Hits 8 in 'Santa' Slayings

Engineer carried firestarting device disguised as a gift
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2008 3:01 AM CST

(Newser) – The death toll in the Christmas Eve massacre by a California man dressed as Santa Claus has now risen to at least eight as more details of the rampage emerge,  the Los Angeles Times reports. Bruce Jeffrey Pardo first shot in the face an 8-year-old girl who answered the door at his former in-laws' home, then opened fire on his relatives, ex-wife and a crowd of holiday guests.

Before fleeing, Pardo used a home-made incendiary device wrapped like a present to set the house ablaze. Pardo, whose wife divorced him last September, was found dead in an apparent suicide hours later. The one-time engineer was described by acquaintances as "the nicest guy" and a reliable church usher. Victims are being identified, but police believe they include his wife and her parents. The 8-year-old girl survived.