COVINA, Calif. (AP) - Relatives of nine people slain at an extended family's annual Christmas Eve party have received an outpouring of support from around the world, a family spokesman said Monday.
The families of the dead have been devastated and are seeking privacy and solitude to grieve, attorney Scott Nord said in a statement released through the Covina Police Department.
"They have felt your love for them and the prayers said on their behalf," Nord's statement said. "While there are no words which can help to cure the hurt that they are suffering, the thought that so many have opened their hearts to them provides them comfort."
Nord announced that a fund for monetary donations to help the families had been established.
The nine were killed when Bruce Pardo, 45, carried out a brutal attack on those gathered at the home of his ex-wife's parents just days after the settlement of a bitter divorce was finalized.
Dressed as Santa Claus, Pardo entered the home and opened fire with semiautomatic handguns, then used a homemade device to fill the house with vaporized racing fuel, which exploded. Pardo suffered serious burns, but was able to flee. He shot himself to death at his brother's home in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles.
The nine victims' bodies were charred by the fire that consumed the house and they remained unidentified Monday.
The missing included Pardo's 43-year-old former wife, Sylvia Pardo; her parents, Joseph Ortega, 80, and Alicia Ortega, 70; her 46-year-old sister, Alicia Ortiz, and the sister's 17-year-old son, Michael Ortiz. Also missing were a brother, Charles Ortega, 50, and his wife, Cheri, 45; and another brother, James, 52, and his wife, Teresa, 51.
Mexican relatives of the family planned to travel to California to attend a mass funeral, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Llamas Sotomayor, who lives in Torreon, Mexico, told the Times that she and other family members had exchanged holiday greetings with relatives at the Christmas Eve party shortly before the attack.
"We did that every year. We were always used to calling each other on the radio," Sotomayor, 51, said. "It was basically, 'How are you? We're all together here? How are you over there?' They were happy and we were happy."
Relatives in Torreon told the Times that Joseph and Alicia Ortega visited the north-central Mexican city where Alicia was born at least twice a year. Joseph was born in the United States, although his parents were from Torreon.
Joseph met Alicia during a visit to Mexico and married her in Torreon 53 years ago, shortly before they moved together to the United States.
Editor's Note: According to a statement released through the
Covina Police Department, checks may be mailed to Ortega Family
Fund, C/O Law Offices of Scott J. Nord, 500 N. Brand Boulevard,
Suite 550, Glendale, Calif., 91203.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)