July 18

This Day in History

Crime

Jul 18, 1984:

Twenty-one people are shot to death at McDonald's

James Oliver Huberty opens fire in a crowded McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, California, killing 21 people and wounding 19 others with several automatic weapons. Minutes earlier, Huberty had left home, telling his wife, "I'm going hunting... hunting for humans."

Huberty, who had a history of mental problems, lost his job in Ohio the previous year. He brought his family to San Diego and worked as a security guard until he was fired again, a month before the shootings. His wife claimed that Huberty called a mental health clinic to make an appointment for counseling but was never called back. Huberty had a love affair with guns, keeping a small arsenal in his bedroom. Neighbors described him as very angry.

Bringing several of these guns, including a 9mm automatic pistol and semiautomatic rifle, into the McDonald's two miles from the Mexican border, Huberty demanded that the 45 patrons get on the floor. He then walked around the restaurant, calmly shooting people. He killed 20 in the first ten minutes, including four who tried to escape. There were so many shots fired that the police first assumed that there was more than one gunman inside. Firing at a fire truck that responded to the scene, Huberty also grazed one firefighter with a bullet.

An hour after the shooting began, an employee managed to escape through the basement and inform the SWAT team that Huberty was alone and without hostages. With this information, sharpshooters were told to "take him out." A marksman sent a shot through Huberty's chest and killed him. After making sure that he was dead, police finally entered the restaurant. San Diego Police Chief William Kolender said, "I hope to God I never see such a thing again."

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