July 18, 1984: The San Ysidro McDonald’s mass shooting takes place. James Huberty, 41 years old, mentioned to his wife (who had been abused throughout their marriage) that he believed he had mental health problems. On July 17, he called a mental health clinic and spoke with a receptionist. He was calm and was told someone would call him back in a few hours. He waited by the phone for hours. No one called him back. He eventually left the house, came back an hour later, and the family had dinner. The next day, unemployed Huberty too his wife and daughters to the San Diego Zoo. He told his wife while there that his life was over. The family had lunch at Clairemont McDonald’s and returned home. He left the house later in the afternoon and said goodbye to his family and carried a wrapped bundle out to his car.
At 3.56 PM, he entered the San Ysidro McDonald’s parking lot, about three blocks from the family’s apartment. He entered the restaurant in possession of a 9 mm Browning semi-automatic pistol, a 9 mm Uzi, a Winchester 12 gauge pump-action shotgun, and a bag containing hundreds of rounds of ammunition for each gun. He walked up to the counter and pointed his shotgun at John Arnold (16) who worked behind the counter. He fired, but the gun did not discharge. The manager, Neva Caine (22) walked past the gunman and Huberty fired the gun again, shooting the young woman in the back of the head. She died just minutes later. He then ordered everyone onto the ground.
He began ranting and raving and began a shooting spree as people cowered under tables. His wild spraying of gunfire left many with multiple injuries. Jackie Reyes (18) protected her niece, Aurora Pena. Reyes, who was pregnant, also attempted to shield her 8-month-old son. Reyes was shot 48 times. Pena and the baby survived, but when the baby later cried, Huberty shot him and the baby died of a single gunshot to the back. People came into the parking lot and were shot at. People hiding inside the restaurant were discovered and shot. Anyone nearby seemed to be a target. Emergency calls had gone out, but police were initially sent to the wrong McDonald’s; they arrived within ten minutes.
Eventually 175 officers were brought to the location and were later joined by specially trained SWAT teams. They were told to use any force to stop the shooter. At 5.17 PM, a SWAT sniper on the roof of the nearby post office had a clear line of fire and brought Huberty down with a single shot. During the 78 minutes of terror, Huberty fired 257 rounds of ammunition. He killed 20 people (with another person dying the next day) from age 8 months to 74 years and injured 19 more (ages 4 months to 36 years). McDonald’s donated $1 million to a survivor’s fund and donated the land on which the restaurant sat to the town. Mrs. Huberty has received funds from the survivor’s fund set up by McDonald’s and she unsuccessfully sued both McDonald’s and her husband’s former employer, blaming them for the day’s event.
Goodbye. I won’t be back. – James Huberty, as he left the house
Cruelty and fear shake hands together. – Honore de Balzac
Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage. – Ray Bradbury
Murder is not perpetrated in a vacuum. It is a product of greed, avarice, hate, revenge, or perhaps fear. As a splashing stone sends ripples to the farthest edges of the pond, murder affects the lives of many people. – Erle Stanley Gardner
Also on this day: Perfect – In 1976, Nadia Comaneci received the first perfect score at the Olympics.
Manifesto – In 1925, Hitler’s Mein Kampf was published.
Nero Fiddles? – In 64 AD, Rome burned.
Dent Blanche – In 1862, the mountain was first scaled.
Mary Jo Kopechne – In 1969, Mary Jo did not survive Ted Kennedy’s drive into the water.
* “James Oliver Huberty” by http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/rights-managed/U841145/portrait-of-james-huberty?popup=1. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:James_Oliver_Huberty.jpg#/media/File:James_Oliver_Huberty.jpg