A Brief History
On July 18, 1984, hungry customers of the San Ysidro, California McDonald’s got more than they expected when a gunman began shooting people. (San Ysidro neighborhood of San Diego.)
In yet another case of the mental health system failing the patient and the public, 41 year old James Huberty was feeling as if he needed mental help, and his wife suspected he may have been mentally ill. Huberty called a local mental health facility and was promised a prompt call back, but when he had waited for hours beside the phone and no return call came, he took off on his motorcycle for unknown parts.
Huberty returned home, had a family dinner and bike ride, and the next day the family went to the zoo. Huberty then told his wife that his life was “over” and that “society had their chance.” Huberty kissed his wife goodbye and told her he was going out “hunting humans.”
Driving the 200 yards to the local McDonald’s at about 4 pm, Huberty got out with a 9mm pistol, a 9mm carbine and a 12 gauge pump shotgun, with plenty of ammo for each gun. The crowded restaurant had about 45 customers inside when Huberty walked in and aimed his shotgun at a 16 year old employee. When the shotgun failed to fire, Huberty switched to a pistol and began shooting people. After shooting 2 people and threatening to kill “a thousand more” Huberty was asked by a customer to stop shooting people. Proving there is such a thing as a dumb question, Huberty shot the guy 14 times, killing him.
The killing continued until 5:17 pm when a SWAT sniper ended the incident with a single shot through Huberty’s aorta and spine. Unfortunately, 21 people were dead and 19 wounded, many of them children. This ended up being the worst US massacre in which the gunman was killed by police. Victims ranged from 4 months to 74 years old, with the youngest fatality being 8 months old.
The McDonald’s restaurant was razed and the land was given to the city, which used it to erect an education center as part of the local community college, incorporating a memorial to the shooting victims. A new McDonald’s was built nearby.
Once again, the lack of an effective mental health system cost many lives. Huberty was one of those loony types that thought that society was nearing a collapse, Soviets were undermining everything, and international bankers and the Federal Reserve conspired to bankrupt the country. Huberty stocked his home with thousands of dollars worth of food and 6 guns (with thousands of rounds of ammo). He was fired from his job as a security guard only 2 weeks before the massacre.
San Diego’s response to the mental health fiasco? Train and arm the police with more powerful weapons. Of course, that part is okay, but what was done about preventing such incidents? Gun control advocates went on about getting rid of guns, while advocates of an armed public pointed out that one citizen carrying a concealed pistol could have ended the massacre before more than 1 or 2 people had been shot. Question for students (and subscribers): Now it is your turn to tell us what can be done to prevent this type of incident in the future in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Carley, Steven G. The Case of Patrick Sherrill, George Hennard, James Huberty (Rampage Killers). SGC Production, 2013.