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At least six people have died after a man dressed as Santa Claus opened fire at a Christmas party near Los Angeles and set the house alight, police say.

Three other people are still missing in the suburb of Covina, in California.

Police named Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, as a suspect and later said his body had been identified at his brother's house, some 25 miles (40km) away.

He died from a single gunshot wound to the head, local police officer Martin Guerrero told the AP news agency.

Pat Buchanan, another city policeman, said: "He was going through some type of marital problems, and we believe that this residence [in Covina] is a relative's residence."

Police said Mr Pardo was the estranged husband of a woman who may have been at the party.

Burnt out

The gunman opened fire with a hand gun on some 25 guests after arriving on Wednesday night, police said.

They said he then used a homemade incendiary device to set the house on fire.

Eyewitnesses said he removed the Santa suit and left in casual clothing.

One neighbour, Jan Gregory, told AP she saw a teenage boy running from the house screaming: "They shot my family."

The subsequent fire gutted the two-storey home.

Among those injured was an eight-year-old girl.

LA County coroner's official Ed Winter said the bodies found in the ashes were "extremely charred and burned".

Covina is about 25 miles (40km) east of Los Angeles.


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