What kind of monster dresses as Santa Claus and shoots an 8-year- old girl in the face as she expectantly greets him at the front door on Christmas Eve?
What kind of monster systematically executes nine people with semiautomatic handguns, takes out a homemade flamethrower festooned with Christmas wrapping and burns a two-story house to the ground?
What kind of monster takes out a whole family gathered together to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace?
What kind of monster rigs his rental car to explode with the hope that more victims will be added to the unfathomable death toll?
What kind of monster could be so enraged by a failed marriage and an acrimonious divorce that he could be driven to commit the most evil acts imaginable?
Those questions have been on my mind since Christmas Day. It was then we first learned that Bruce Pardo, 45, of Montrose killed nine members of the same family who had gathered at a Covina home on Knollcrest Drive.
An explosion from the blaze Pardo set off seared the Santa suit to his flesh. His getaway to Moline, Ill., or Davenport, Iowa, became unlikely.
Pardo, who spent months planning his attack, slipped past police responding to the horrific scene and made his way to a brother’s home in Sylmar.
The questions began to form in the minds of first responders who spent early Christmas morning grappling with the monster’s appetite for destruction.
But the monster did not stick around to answer the questions. The monster took the coward’s way out. He saved the last semi-automatic round for himself, completing the purchase of his one-way ticket to hell.
As a result, there is no accounting for the pure evil of the monster other than facts that could apply to anyone.
The monster lived among us.
The monster had a family.
The monster felt affection for his dog.
The monster achieved high grades in high school.
The monster attended college.
The monster worked as a software engineer.
The monster’s friends recalled him as quiet and unassuming.
The monster spent his Sunday evenings ushering the children’s Mass at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Montrose.
The monster wished acquaintances Merry Christmas.
The questions and the irrelevance of the answers loomed large on Knollcrest Drive on Monday morning — five days after the massacre that likely claimed the lives of Jose and Alicia Ortega, two of their sons, two of their daughters-in-law, two daughters and a grandson.
I went there hoping to learn something — anything.
I left there with a profound feeling of despair and sadness for a loving and close-knit family taken out by a selfish, soulless and sociopathic monster who turned a day of joy into something we will never understand or comprehend.