For those who have not heard the news story this past week; a man by the name of Bruce Pardo dressed up as Santa and went on a shooting rampage directed at his ex-wife and her family. He was aware that they held an annual Christmas party. He had been planning this for quite some time. About a week or so before the shootings took place…Bruce Pardo and his estranged wife, Sylvia, were officially divorced after 2 years of marriage. This man who dressed up as Santa, needed help. If he had gotten it…maybe this tragedy would not have happened.
It sounds as if the Pardo’s marriage was one of deceipt. Mr. Pardo had not disclosed to his wife that he had a child from a previous relationship that he did not see, nor did he help support. It seems that when this child was a toddler in Mr. Pardo’s care; the child ended up in a pool and almost drowned. The young child is now around the age of 7 ; but, Bruce Pardo kept this child a secret from his wife. She discovered that the child existed by going through tax papers and finding out that he claimed the child as a dependent. He denied the situation and Sylvia called her mother in law who confirmed that a child did in fact exist and was disabled. She filed for divorce…he did not want it.
It seems that during this time…Bruce also lost his job and then was ordered, by the court, to pay support to his soon to be ex-wife. By all appearances…Bruce did his best to follow through on the court’s dissolution of his marriage….yet, all along he planned his revenge on the woman who divorced him and those who were closest to her and helped her to leave him.
Bruce rented two vehicles and he had things planned out. He had an extra large Santa suit made up for him. It seems that at the annual party, Santa always showed up. He went to the home with a gift in his hand…when the door was opened by a young 8 year old girl…he opened fire, shooting her in the face. He then went about shooting and looking for specific people. After he shot the people he went looking for…he then used a homemade device to set the home on fire; inadvertantly causing himself 3rd degree burns when part of the Santa suit melted into his skin from the incendiary device he used to start the fire.
People in the home had tried to hide and some were able to flee. A sister of Sylvia’s escaped to a neighbors with the young 8 year old girl who was shot in the face. She was able to call 911. After starting the fire, Bruce Pardo shot out street lights…allegedly to help further his escape.
People are speculating that he had plans to shoot his own mother who was planning on attending the Christmas party, at her ex-daughter in laws parents home. She felt ill that evening and was not able to attend. Bruce blamed his mother for siding with Sylvia in the divorce. Also allegedly a possible victim of violence was the divorce lawyer who represented Sylvia. One of the rental vehicles was sitting near the lawyers home.
It appears that Bruce changed his plans after he was burned. It is thought that he was in great pain. He allegedly had purchased a plane ticket for Illinois to go there and cross the state line into Iowa to see a friend. He also had about 17,ooo.oo dollars plastic wrapped to his body. Instead of implementing those plans…he drove approximately 30-40 miles to his brothers home and broke in and shot himself dead.
What is hard to understand is; didn’t anyone who knew him or had occasion to spend time with him, during the weeks preceding the violence, see his mental breakdown? Was he so good at hiding his wrath that he was able to misleed the people in his life? Or did he isolate himself a this time?
Those familiar with the divorce situation say that he seemed almost eager to have it over with. The neighbors say that he was friendly and even wished them a Merry Christmas after telling them he was attending a Christmas party.
People who knew him said he was a friendly guy. They are shocked. And yet, a close friend of Sylvia allegedly said that Sylvia said he changed almost immediately after the marriage. He became secretive. Others say that Bruce had a secret guilt about the child that was gravely injured on his watch. The mother of the child allegedly says that he was involved when the child was in the hospital; but then…he didn’t visit nor did he support the child. In fact, he kept the child a secret from many…including his new wife.
The thing is…people who struggle with mental health issues dont always get the help that they need. Bruce Pardo needed that kind of help to cope with the feelings that he had from the tragedy that happened to his child. He needed support and counseling to heal up from the guilt that he most likely felt after the child was injured. He needed to have pre-marital counseling to help him break the news of this part of his life to his intended wife.
Sylvia needed a husband who could share this past with her. She needed him to seek marriage counseling when their marriage appeared to flounder shortly after it began. She needed some indication that the man she married was deeply disturbed and capable of such violence. She needed protection from the man that she fell in love with.
Experts will tell you that people who are in a state of flux…or life changes are often the most vulnerable for domestic violence. This is a dangerous time when emotions are raw and assets or custody rights are at stake. Passions are running high. It should almost be mandatory to have to have some sort of counseling to help people through the maze of emotion and legal wrangling that takes place.
I can’t help but to think of those that lost their lives and those who were left behind to deal with the aftermath. God help them. The things that they saw and heard will live with them for a very long time. And what about those who weren’t there; but, were directly affected such as Bruce Pardo’s mother or his brother. What about them? People need to pray for all of them. They are not responsible for his actions…and yet, they are directly affected by them as much as Sylvia’s family and friends. His brother…can you imagine…how will he ever be able to go back into his home? He has to wonder…why did his brother come there to commit suicide? His mother…she was obviously friendly with Sylvia and her family; how will she relate to the surviving members? They are all hurting…will they be able to help support one another or will it be too painful for them to see each other?
So many questions and so few answers. The thing is…unfortunately…people who are depressed or going through trauma often don’t think past the moment, about the long term effects of their actions. It is the survivors that are left to cope with both the questions and the answers.