- The Washington Times - Friday, December 26, 2008


Gunshots, fire leave several dead

COVINA | At least three people were killed after a gun-toting man dressed as Santa Claus burst into a Christmas Eve party and opened fire before later killing himself, police in Los Angeles said Thursday.

Police said more bodies may be found in the charred wreckage of the burned-out home.

The body of Bruce Pardo, 45, was found with self-inflicted gunshot wounds early Thursday, hours after he had launched a murderous assault on a party hosted by a relative of his estranged wife, police said.

Pardo had knocked on the door of the home in a quiet residential neighborhood in Covina, 23 miles east of Los Angeles, just before midnight on Christmas Eve, police Lt. Pat Buchanan said.

Once inside, he produced a handgun from beneath his costume and opened fire, killing at least three people and injuring three more.

He was later found dead from a single gunshot to the head at his home in Sylmar.


Tree hits car; kills 2 in family

BLOOMFIELD | A tree fell onto the car of a family driving along a New Jersey highway on Christmas morning, killing a grandmother and a father and injuring his two daughters.

New Jersey State Police say the accident happened on the Garden State Parkway in Bloomfield in Essex County. The car was hit by the 40-foot-tall tree just after 1 a.m.

The accident killed 42-year-old Joel Baudouin of Arlington, Mass., and Boston resident Marie Vernet, 70. Both died at the scene when the tree crushed their car.

Rachele Baudouin, 13, and Cassies Baudouin, 8, were sitting in the back seat. Rachele broke her right leg. Her sister suffered minor injuries.

Police are trying to determine why the tree fell.


‘Sopranos’ actor dead in suicide

NEW YORK | Police say the actor who portrayed the gay lover of a closeted mobster on “The Sopranos” has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in New York.

Police spokesman Lt. John Grimpel said John Costelloe was found dead in an apparent suicide at his Brooklyn home on Dec. 18.

Police were called to his residence after family members were unable to reach him.

The 47-year-old former New York City firefighter gained fame in 2006 when he was cast as short-order cook Jim “Johnny Cakes” Witowski opposite Joseph Gannascoli, who played gay mobster Vito Spatafore on the hit HBO show.

Mr. Costelloe was performing as a hustler in a theater production of “Gang of Seven” at the time of his death.


Suspect in road shootings dies

DALLAS | A former Utah state trooper suspected in a series of Dallas-area roadway shootings died on Christmas Eve, a day after police said he turned a gun on himself following a brief standoff.

Brian Smith, 37, had been in critical condition on life support from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police said he shot himself in the head Tuesday, more than six hours after the roadway shooting spree ended.

Smith died Wednesday night at Parkland Hospital, nursing supervisor Arthur Clarke said.

Authorities were working to confirm that Smith was the gunman in separate fatal shootings minutes apart Monday on Garland Street and a Dallas interstate, Dallas police Lt. Craig Miller said.

Earlier Wednesday, police shut down the freeway to re-examine the scene of one of the shootings. “It’s just another thing that’s part of the investigation,” Lt. Miller said. “It’s not a critical component. That’s what we wanted to do, just check everything we can.”


Store has bone to pick with dog

MURRAY | A thief remains at large after pulling off a daring heist - in the pet food aisle.

Surveillance video at a supermarket in this Salt Lake City suburb caught a dog shoplifting, KSL-TV reported.

The video showed the dog walking in the front door of Smith’s Food & Drug in Murray and heading straight to Aisle 16, the pet food aisle, where it grabbed a bone worth $2.79.

The thief wasn’t even perturbed by a face-to-face confrontation with store manager Roger Adamson.

“I looked at him. I said ‘Drop it!’ ” Mr. Adamson said. “He looked at me, and I looked at him, and he ran for the door and away he went, right out the front door.”


Fire cuts power to Spokane area

SPOKANE | Fire in an underground transformer has shut down power to about an eight-block area of downtown Spokane.

The affected area includes many popular bars, restaurants and concert halls, but nearly all were closed for Christmas Eve.

The fire was reported in a vault in front of the Spokesman-Review’s building just before 6 p.m. Wednesday. Witnesses said they saw flames shooting from a manhole. The fire was extinguished by 6:30 p.m.

Electricity was lost at the historic Davenport Hotel, an apartment complex and the newspaper building. The newsroom continued operating with emergency generators, but a spokesman said subscribers might not receive the paper’s main news and sports sections.

Crews were working to restore power. No injuries were reported.

From combined dispatches and staff reports

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