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A look at the nine Christmas Eve shooting victims

Mourners gathered today to say goodbye to the family members killed in the shooting rampage. Here are brief biographies.

January 17, 2009|Ari B. Bloomekatz and Hector Becerra

More than 1,500 mourners turned out Friday for the funeral of nine family members killed during a shooting rampage on Christmas Eve.

Cardinal Roger Mahony and Covina Police Chief Kim Raney were among those who attended the 10 a.m. Mass at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church in San Dimas. A private funeral service followed at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Covina.

Apparently enraged over his recent divorce, Bruce Pardo arrived at the home of his former in-laws in Covina dressed as Santa Claus and armed with four semiautomatic weapons and an incendiary device, police said. When he left, nine people were dead and the house was engulfed in flames.

The Los Angeles County coroner identified the victims as Pardo's ex-wife, Sylvia Pardo, 43; her parents, Joseph Ortega, 80, and his wife, Alicia, 70; her two brothers, James Ortega, 52, and Charles Ortega, 50, and their wives, Teresa, 51, and Cheri, 45; Sylvia Pardo's sister, Alicia Ortiz, 46, and her son, Michael Ortiz, 17.

Rosa Ordaz, 44, a friend of the Ortega family, was among those who attended the morning Mass.

"It seemed like they knew how precious time was and the most important thing to them was family and friends," Ordaz said. "We're all confident that the beauty of love will continue."

Of Sylvia Pardo's immediate family, only her sister Leticia Yuzefpolsky survived the Covina shootings, police and family friends said.

Pardo fled the scene and later shot himself to death outside his brother's house in Sylmar.

The following is a list of the nine family members killed on Dec. 24:


Sylvia Pardo, 43

Roxanne Jauregui met Sylvia Pardo when the two registered for high school at Sacred Heart of Mary in Montebello almost three decades ago.

Looking for friendly faces among the new crowd, the two young women from Monterey Park became fast friends because they were from the same neighborhood. Jauregui's father took them to school in the morning; Pardo's mother picked them up in the afternoon.

"We would do everything -- dances, school functions, house parties," Jauregui said.

Pardo's family went camping in Kings Canyon National Park every year, and Jauregui often tagged along. The two remained close over the years, even when Pardo attended a different high school after her family moved to Covina during her sophomore year.

"It was tough on her because we were her first friends," Jauregui said.

Pardo was always interested in business and took a job as a secretary out of high school.

"We would laugh at her shorthand," Jauregui said. "She enjoyed her work."

Family members said Pardo was a hard worker yet carried a cheerful demeanor. But her life was not without hardship, they said.

About 20 years ago, the father of her two oldest children was killed in a car crash in Arizona. She was a widow for many years until she married George Orza, whom she apparently met through work. The couple had a daughter, now 6.

Orza and Pardo later divorced. He now lives in Oklahoma.

Sylvia met Bruce Pardo about four years ago. At first, the marriage seemed ideal: He lived alone in a sparsely furnished house, and she had three children and plenty of furniture. The marriage began disintegrating when Sylvia Pardo discovered that Bruce Pardo had abandoned a brain-damaged son years ago but continued to claim him as a tax write-off.

One week before Bruce Pardo's murderous rampage, the couple appeared before a judge to finalize a divorce agreement. He would keep the house. She would get a $10,000 payment and the family dog.

Joseph Ortega, 80

Joseph Ortega was the first of his parents' five children to be born in the United States. Santiago Ortega and Dolores Sandoval had emigrated in the 1920s from the city of Torreon in northern Mexico. Their oldest son, Alfonso, would become a U.S. citizen and fight in World War II. Santiago and Dolores moved back to Mexico about 10 years later, and Joseph Ortega came to see his older brother as a kind of second father, said Irma Chapa Ortega, a niece in Mexico.

When Alfonso Ortega died two years ago at the age of 97, "it affected my uncle very deeply," she said.

Growing up, Joseph Ortega disliked the name Joseph. A family member called him "Jimmy" because he could not pronounce his real name, and Ortega took that name as his own. He would meet his future wife, Alicia, during a visit to see his parents in Torreon in 1955. They moved to L.A. almost immediately.

The couple named their first child James. They had five children, and with his wife's help, Ortega started an industrial paint company in Baldwin Park. The couple eventually bought a two-story home with a pool in the suburb of Covina that became a center of family life.

"Papa Joe," as he was called, loved to collect baseball hats and tried to wear a new one every day, said Linda Perez, a family friend who would give him her son's old Little League hats.

"It didn't matter what kind it was, he'd wear it and be beaming for the rest of the day," she said.

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