Assistant Chief Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Officesaid Thursday investigators sifting through the ashes of the house have come across more dead than the three bodies already uncovered. Winter would not say exactly how many were found.
Authorities say three others were injured, including an 8-year-old girl.
Police say their only suspect killed himself at his brother’s house earlier Thursday. He opened fire while dressed as Santa Claus.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
COVINA, Calif. (AP) — A man dressed as Santa Claus opened fire at a Christmas Eve party in a home that subsequently caught fire, leaving three people dead, police said. The suspect later killed himself, police said.
Police found the body of Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, at the home of his brother early Thursday in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles. Police would not say how he died.
Police said he was the estranged husband of a person who may have been at the party in Covina, a Los Angeles suburb.
“He was going through some type of marital problems, and we believe that this residence is a relative’s residence,” Lt. Pat Buchanan said.
The gunman arrived at the party late Wednesday and immediately opened fire with a handgun, Buchanan said. Witnesses told police that the man took off the Santa suit and left the scene in street clothes.
Buchanan says three bodies were found after the fire was put out. He could not say how the fire started or how the three people died.
Buchanan said three other people were injured. A woman in her 20s and an 8-year-old girl had gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening, and a third person had a broken ankle.
Police received several 911 calls with reports of shots fired at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night, and were still hearing gunshots after they arrived and found the house in flames, Buchanan said.
At first, firefighters were held back by police because shots were still being fired, though it may have been ammunition burning in the blaze, fire Captain Mike Brown said.
Firefighters had extinguished the blaze by about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, fire Captain Mike Brown said.
The two-story home on a cul-de-sac was destroyed in the quiet suburb 25 miles east of Los Angeles.
“This neighborhood is really quiet,” said Jeffrey Barrientos, who lives half a block from the house that burned. Barrientos said the neighborhood’s residents were mostly retirees and elderly people.