San Ysidro McDonald's massacre

San Ysidro McDonald's massacre
Location San Diego, California
Date Wednesday, July 18, 1984
Attack type Massacre, Mass Murder
Weapon(s) Uzi Carbine, Browning HP, 12-gauge Winchester 1200
Death(s) 22 (including perpetrator)
Injured 19
Perpetrator(s) James Huberty

The San Ysidro McDonald's massacre was an incident of mass murder that occurred on July 18, 1984, in a McDonald's restaurant in the San Ysidro section of San Diego, California. The shootings resulted in 22 deaths (including the perpetrator James Huberty) and the injuries of 19 others.


James Huberty

Perpetrator James O. Huberty

James Oliver Huberty was born in Canton, Ohio on October 11, 1942. When he was three he contracted polio,[1] and even though he made a progressive recovery, the disease caused him to suffer permanent walking difficulties. In the early 1950s, his father bought a farm in the Pennsylvania Amish Country. His mother refused to live in the Amish country, and soon abandoned her family to do sidewalk preaching for a Southern Baptist organization. Her abandonment would leave a profound effect on the young James, who became sullen and withdrawn.[citation needed]

In 1962, Huberty enrolled at a Jesuit community college, where he earned a degree in sociology. He would later receive a license for embalming at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[2] While at Mortuary School, he met his wife Etna, whom he married in 1965 and had two daughters – Zelia and Cassandra. The Huberty family settled in Massillon, Ohio, where James worked as an undertaker at the Don Williams Funeral Home. In 1971, they were forced to relocate to Canton, after their house in Massillon was set ablaze.

While living in Canton, Huberty found work as a welder for Union Metal Inc. He and Etna had a history of violent behavior. At a neighbor's daughter's birthday party, Etna instructed her daughter Zelia to physically assault one of her classmates. In a related altercation with the child's mother, Etna threatened the woman with a 9 mm pistol; although she was arrested, the Canton police failed to confiscate the weapon. At one point James shot his German Shepherd in the head when a neighbor complained about the dog damaging his car.

Huberty, a survivalist, saw signs of growing trouble in America, believing that government meddling and regulation was the cause of business failures and unemployment, including his own. He believed that international bankers were purposefully manipulating the Federal Reserve System and bankrupting the nation. Convinced that Soviet aggression was everywhere, he believed that the breakdown of society was near, perhaps through economic collapse or nuclear war. He committed himself to prepare to survive this coming collapse and while in Canton, provisioned his house with thousands of dollars of non-perishable food and six guns that he intended to use to defend his home during the coming chaos. When he moved from Ohio, he left the food behind but brought the guns with him.[3]

Domestic violence was frequent in the Huberty household, with Etna once filing a report with the Canton Department of Children and Family Services that her husband had "messed up" her jaw. To pacify him and his bouts of violence, she would produce tarot cards and pretend to read his future, thus producing a temporary calming effect.

As a result of a motorcycle accident, Huberty had an uncontrollable twitch in his right arm, a condition that made it impossible to continue as a welder. In January 1984, the Huberty family left Canton and briefly stayed in Tijuana, Mexico before settling in San Ysidro. He was able to find work as a security guard in San Ysidro; however, he was dismissed from this position two weeks before the shooting. His apartment was three blocks away from the site of the massacre.

Prior to the shooting

On the day before the massacre, Huberty had called a mental health center. The receptionist misspelled his name on intake as "Shouberty". Since he had not claimed there was an immediate emergency, his call was not returned. He and his family went to the San Diego Zoo on the morning of July 18, and had eaten at a McDonald's in the Clairemont neighborhood in northern San Diego a few hours prior to the massacre.

Before Huberty left for McDonald's, his wife Etna asked him where he was going. Huberty responded that he was "hunting humans".[4] Earlier that day he had commented to her, "Society had its chance."[5] Huberty said he had chosen McDonald's because, when he attended at an earlier date, they were out of his favourite Strawberry milkshakes. When questioned by police, she gave no explanation as to why she failed to report this bizarre behavior. A witness who spotted him as he left his apartment and proceeded down San Ysidro Boulevard with two firearms phoned the police, but the dispatcher gave the reporting officers the wrong address.


Monument to Victims of Massacre - San Diego, CA

Huberty used a 9 mm Uzi semi-automatic (the primary weapon fired in the massacre), a Winchester pump-action 12-gauge shotgun, and a 9 mm Browning HP in the restaurant, killing 21 people and wounding 19 others. His victims were predominantly Mexican and Mexican-American and ranged in age from 8 months to 74 years. The massacre began at 3:40 p.m. and lasted for 77 minutes. He had spent 257 rounds of ammunition before he was fatally shot by a SWAT team sniper, Chuck Foster, perched on the roof of the post office adjacent to the restaurant.[6][7]

Although Huberty stated during the massacre that he had killed thousands in Vietnam, he had never actually served in any military branch. Eyewitnesses stated that he had previously been seen at the Big Bear supermarket and later at the U.S. Post Office. It was surmised that he found the McDonald's to be a better target.

Due to the number of victims, local funeral homes had to use the San Ysidro Civic Center to hold all the wakes. The local parish, Mount Carmel Church, had to have back-to-back funeral masses to accommodate all the dead.


After razing the ravaged site, McDonald's built another restaurant nearby[7] and gave the former property to the city, which established the Education Center on the site as part of Southwestern Community College. This location was built in 1988 as an expansion of its off-campus locations. In front of the school is a memorial to the massacre victims, consisting of 21 hexagonal white marble pillars ranging in height from one to six feet and each bearing the name of one of the victims, designed by Roberto Valdes.[8] Every anniversary, the monument is decorated with flowers and on the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead candles and offerings are brought on behalf of the victims.[citation needed] The location of the monument and the former McDonald's is at 522 West San Ysidro Boulevard.[7] Valdes, a former student at Southwestern, said of the sculpture "The 21 hexagons represent each person that died, and they are different heights, representing the variety of ages and races of the people involved in the massacre. They are bonded together in the hopes that the community, in a tragedy like this, will stick together, like they did."[8]

In response to the incident, the city of San Diego increased training for special units, and purchased more powerful firearms to counteract future situations.[6] The San Ysidro incident also led police departments across the United States to provide their officers with higher power firearms and training for stopping violent criminals and keeping all those around them safe.[6]

The families of the deceased victims along with the surviving victims together sued McDonald's Corporation and the local franchisee in San Diego Superior Court. The cases were consolidated and ultimately dismissed before trial on defendants' motion for summary judgment. The plaintiffs appealed. On July 25, 1987, the California Court of Appeal (Fourth District, Division One) affirmed summary judgment for the defendants because (1) they had no duty of care to protect patrons from an unforeseeable assault by a murderous madman; and (2) plaintiffs could not prove causation because the standard reasonable measures normally used by restaurants to deter criminals, like guards and closed-circuit television cameras, could not possibly have deterred a madman who did not care about his own survival.[9]

In 1986, Etna Huberty, James's widow, unsuccessfully sued McDonald's and Babcock and Wilcox, his longtime former employer, in an Ohio state court for $5 million, claiming that the massacre was triggered by the combined mixture of eating too many of their chicken nuggets and working around highly poisonous metals. She alleged that monosodium glutamate in the food, combined with the high levels of lead and cadmium in his body, induced delusions and uncontrollable rage. An autopsy did reveal high levels of the metals,[5] most likely built up from fumes inhaled during 14 years of welding. Autopsy results also revealed there were no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the killings. Etna Huberty died in 2003.[4]

See also


WPSAN San Diego County Map Version 1.png San Diego County portal
  1. ^ The Evil 100 at Google Books
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of murder & violent crime at Google Books
  3. ^ Mitchell, Richard Sheppard (2002). Dancing at Armageddon: Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. [page needed]. ISBN 978-0-226-53244-8. 
  4. ^ a b Gresko, Jessica (July 18, 2004), "20 Years later, San Ysidro McDonald's massacre remembered", North County Times (Escondido, CA),, retrieved June 3, 2010 
  5. ^ a b "The Chemistry of Violence", Popular Mechanics, March 1998,, retrieved December 4, 2006 [dead link]
  6. ^ a b c Kavanagh, Jim (July 24, 2009), "Slaughter at McDonald's changed how police operate", CNN,, retrieved June 3, 2010 
  7. ^ a b c "A massacre in San Ysidro", The San Diego Union-Tribune,, retrieved August 11, 2011 
  8. ^ a b Ben-Ali, Russell (December 14, 1990), "After a Long Wait, Monument Is Dedicated at Massacre Site", Los Angeles Times,, retrieved June 3, 2010 
  9. ^ Lopez v. McDonald's Corp., 193 Cal. App. 3d 495 (1987).

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • McDonald's massacre — may refer to: San Ysidro McDonald s massacre Sydney River McDonald s Murders This disambiguation page lists articles associated with the same title. If an internal link led you here, you m …   Wikipedia

  • San Ysidro, San Diego, California — San Ysidro is a community within the city of San Diego, California. It is located in the southernmost part of San Diego County, California, immediately north of the international border with Mexico. It was annexed by the city of San Diego in 1957 …   Wikipedia

  • Masacre del McDonald's de San Ysidro — El texto que sigue es una traducción defectuosa o incompleta. Si quieres colaborar con Wikipedia, busca el artículo original y mejora o finaliza esta traducción. Puedes dar aviso al autor principal del artículo pegando el siguiente código en su… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Amoklauf von San Ysidro — Gedenkstätte in San Ysidro Der Amoklauf von San Ysidro ereignete sich am 18. Juli 1984 in San Ysidro, einem Stadtteil von San Diego in Kalifornien, USA. Der 41 jährige James Huberty erschoss in einer McDonald’s Filiale 21 Menschen und verletzte… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • McDonald's Corporation — McDonald s  Pour l’article homonyme, voir McDonald.  Logo de McDonald’s Corporation …   Wikipédia en Français

  • McDonald’s — McDonald s  Pour l’article homonyme, voir McDonald.  Logo de McDonald’s Corporation …   Wikipédia en Français

  • McDonald's — 41° 49′ 48″ N 87° 56′ 40″ W / 41.83005, 87.9444 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • South San Diego — is a section of the City of San Diego extending into far southwestern San Diego County, United States. It is made up of the communities of Egger Highlands, Nestor, Ocean Crest, Otay Mesa, Otay Mesa West, San Ysidro and the Tijuana River Valley… …   Wikipedia

  • List of San Diegans — This is a list of famous people or were born, spent a majority of their life, or currently live in San Diego, California, USA.A*Damon Allen, professional football player *Eric Allen, professional football player *Marcus Allen, professional… …   Wikipedia

  • Sydney River McDonald's Murders — For the 1984 spree killing, San Ysidro McDonald s massacre. The Sydney River McDonald s Murders occurred on May 7, 1992, at the McDonald s restaurant in Sydney River, Nova Scotia, Canada. Derek Wood, 18, an employee of the restaurant along with… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.