Twenty-one people are shot to death at McDonald’s - HISTORY
Year
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.”

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Video of Titanic wreckage released

On this day in 1986, new close-up videotapes of the sunken ocean liner Titanic are released to the public. Taken on the first manned expedition to the wreck, the videotapes are stunning in their clarity and detail, showing one of the ship’s majestic grand staircases and a ...read more

Spanish Civil War breaks out

On July 18, 1936, the Spanish Civil War begins as a revolt by right-wing Spanish military officers in Spanish Morocco and spreads to mainland Spain. From the Canary Islands, General Francisco Franco broadcasts a message calling for all army officers to join the uprising and ...read more

Incident on Chappaquiddick Island

Shortly after leaving a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy of Massachusetts drives an Oldsmobile off a wooden bridge into a tide-swept pond. Kennedy escaped the submerged car, but his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, did not. The senator did not ...read more

Hitler publishes Mein Kampf

Seven months after being released from Landsberg jail, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler publishes the first volume of his personal manifesto, Mein Kampf. Dictated by Hitler during his nine-month stay in prison, Mein Kampf, or “My Struggle,” was a bitter and turgid narrative filled with ...read more

Fire of Rome

A fire erupts in Rome, spreading rapidly throughout the market area in the center of the city. When the flames finally died out more than a week later, nearly two-thirds of Rome had been destroyed.Emperor Nero used the fire as an opportunity to rebuild Rome in a more orderly ...read more

Juan Manuel Fangio makes Formula One debut

Juan Manuel Fangio–the Argentine race car driver dubbed “the Maestro”–makes his European racing debut at the Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France in Reims, France on this day in 1948.Born in San Jose de Balcarce, Argentina, in 1911, Fangio left school at the age of 11 and ...read more

FDR nominated for unprecedented third term

On this day in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who first took office in 1933 as America’s 32nd president, is nominated for an unprecedentedthird term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, would eventually be elected to a record four terms in office, the only U.S. president to serve more than ...read more

Mein Kampf is published

On this day in 1925, Volume One of Adolf Hitler’s philosophical autobiography, Mein Kampf, is published. It was a blueprint of his agenda for a Third Reich and a clear exposition of the nightmare that will envelope Europe from 1939 to 1945. The ...read more

Johnson meets Thieu in Honolulu

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu in Honolulu to discuss relations between Washington and Saigon. Johnson reaffirmed his administration’s commitment “to defend South Vietnam.” Thieu stated that he had “no apprehensions at all” ...read more

David Cone pitches perfect game

On July 18, 1999, New York Yankee David Cone pitches the 16th perfect game in major league history and 14th in the modern era with a no-hit, no-walk victory over the Montreal Expos.David Cone had made his name as a pitcher with the New York Mets from 1987 to 1992. His best year ...read more

Singing Wobbly Joe Hill sentenced to death

Convicted of murder on meager evidence, the singing Wobbly Joe Hill is sentenced to be executed in Utah.A native of Sweden who immigrated to the U.S. in 1879, Joe Hill joined the International Workers of the World (IWW) in 1910. The IWW was an industrial union that rejected the ...read more

Hunter S. Thompson is born

Pioneer of “gonzo” journalism, Hunter S. Thompson is born in Louisville, Ky., on this day.By age 10, Thompson was publishing his own two-page newspaper, which he sold for four cents. By his early teens, he had already launched on the life of drinking, vandalism, and pyromania ...read more