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Gunman dressed as Santa Claus was familiar face on block where eight died

December 25, 2008 |  7:49 pm

Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, the suspect in the slayings of at least eight people in Covina on Christmas Eve, had recently divorced and is believed to have lost his job, according to The Times' Ari B. Bloomekatz and Joel Rubin. He apparently lived in Sylmar but returned to his old Covina neighborhood last night fully armed and wearing a Santa costume:

Court records show that his wife divorced him last September. He "was apparently going through a bad time in his marriage," Buchanan said. Neighbors said that until earlier this year, Pardo lived in the house with his ex-wife and her three children. They were often seen walking their dog through the neighborhood. On a blustery, overcast Christmas morning, Frank Castillo, 46, stood at the yellow police tape in Covina, trying unsuccessfully to obtain information about relatives he said had been at the party. Castillo said a family member had called to tell him that his former sister-in-law, Sylvia Castillo, who is her 30s, had died in the attack. His nephew, Sal Castillo, 19, whom family members called Baby Sal, and a niece, Selina Castillo, were also in the house, he said. "I want to make sure my nephew and niece are OK," he said, choking back tears.

More: Bong Garcia, Pardo's next-door neighbor, said he last saw Pardo between 9 and 10 p.m. Christmas eve. Pardo, who was dressed in regular clothes, said was on his way to a Christmas party.

Photo: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times