LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - At least six people were killed when a man dressed as Santa Claus entered his former in-laws suburban Los Angeles house and opened fire on guests at a Christmas Eve party before setting the home on fire, police said on Thursday.
Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, the only suspect in the shooting in Covina, California, later committed suicide and his body was found at a relative's house in nearby Sylmar, police said.
The suspect, who was carrying at least two handguns and a homemade incendiary device, began shooting as soon as he entered the house, Lt. Pat Buchanan of the Covina Police Department told reporters.
The house, which was owned by the parents of Pardo's ex-wife, caught fire during the shooting and was engulfed in flames when police arrived.
"Six bodies have been confirmed at this point. They have not been identified yet. They are too badly burned and will have to be identified by dental records," Buchanan said.
Police said they do not know how many of the victims died of gunshot wounds or from the fire.
Pardo and his wife recently settled a contentious divorce after a year of marriage, police said.
"He died of self-inflicted wounds. We believe it was a marital dispute," said Buchanan.
Two people were wounded by gunfire, an 8-year-old girl who opened the door and was shot in the face and a 16-year-old girl who was shot in the back as guests fled the house. Some jumped from second-floor windows, police said. Both girls' injuries are not considered life-threatening.
Witnesses among the 25 people attending the annual Christmas party told police that Pardo stripped off his Santa costume after the shooting and fled in street clothes.