San Ysidro McDonald's massacre

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, United States. The shooting spree, which resulted in 22 deaths (including the perpetrator's) and the injuries of 19 others, was fortunately not the deadliest act of mass murder in United States history though (see the Bath school bombings).

The massacre was carried out by James Oliver Huberty, a 41-year-old former Union Metal Inc. welder from Canton, Ohio. While living in Canton. Huberty and his wife "Etna" had a history of violent behavior. At a birthday party for a neighbor's daughter, Etna instructed her daughter to physically assault one of her classmates. In a related altercation with the child's mother, Etna threatened the woman with a 9mm 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 was briefly employed as a funeral director but was fired due to his hostile attitude and poor people skills. When Huberty was in High School, his mother joined a Baptist cult, abandoning her family to do sidewalk preaching. This had a profound effect on James, who became sullen and withdrawn. Domestic violence was frequent in the Huberty household, with Etna once filling a report with the Canton Police that James beat her and "messed up" her jaw. In order to pacify James and reduce his fits of violence, Etna would produce tarot cards and pretend to read his future, thus producing a temporary calming effect. As a result of a motorcycle accident, James was afflicted with an uncontrollable twitch affecting his right arm, a condition which made it impossible to continue as a welder. In January 1984, Huberty had moved to San Diego with his wife and children, where he worked as a security guard until his dismissal one week prior to the murders. His apartment was located near the site of the shooting spree.

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. Huberty 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". Earlier that day he had commented to his wife, "Society had its chance." When questioned by police, Etna gave no explanation as to why she failed to report this bizarre behavior. A witness, who spotted Huberty leave his apartment and proceed down San Ysidro Boulevard with two firearms, phoned police, but the dispatcher gave them the wrong address.

The shooting

Huberty used a 9mm Uzi semi-automatic (the primary weapon fired in the massacre), a Winchester pump-action 12-gauge shotgun, and a 9mm Browning HP in the restaurant, killing 21 people and wounding 19 others. Huberty's 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. Huberty had spent 257 rounds of ammunition before he was fatally shot by a SWAT team sniper, Chuck Foster, perched on the roof of the Yum Yum Donuts adjacent to the restaurant. Initially, law enforcement and emergency crews responded to the McDonald's located at the U.S. International Border with Tijuana at 3:15 p.m., and 15 minutes later changed directions after they learned that the shooting was actually taking place at the McDonald's next to the post office approximately 2 miles away.

Although Huberty stated during the massacre that he had killed thousands in Vietnam, he had never actually served in any military branch. Eye witnesses 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 a better target.

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


  • Elsa Herlinda Borboa-Firro, 19 (McDonald's employee)
  • Neva Denise Caine, 22 (McDonald's manager)
  • Michelle Deanne Carncross, 18
  • María Elena Colmenero-Silva, 19
  • David Flores Delgado, 11
  • Gloria López González, 23
  • Omar Alonso Hernández, 11
  • Blythe Regan Herrera, 31 (mother of Matao Herrera)
  • Matao Herrera, 11
  • Paulina Aquino López, 21 (McDonald's employee)
  • Margarita Padilla, 18 (McDonald's employee)
  • Claudia Pérez, 9
  • Jose Rubén Lozano Pérez, 19
  • Carlos Reyes, 8 months
  • Jackie Lynn Wright Reyes, 18 (mother of Carlos Reyes and pregnant with another child)
  • Victor Maxmillian Rivera, 25
  • Arisdelsi Vuelvas Vargas, 31
  • Hugo Luis Velazquez Vasquez, 45
  • Laurence Herman "Gus" Versluis, 62
  • Aida Velazquez Victoria, 69
  • Miguel Victoria-Ulloa, 74 (husband of Aida Victoria)


On September 26, 1984, McDonald's tore down the restaurant where the massacre occurred and gave the property to the city. They in turn established the Education Center 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 granite pillars ranging in height from one to six feet. 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.


In 1986, Etna Huberty, James Huberty'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 McDonald's food and work around poisonous metals. She alleged that monosodium glutamate in the food, combined with the high levels of lead and cadmium in Huberty's body, induced delusions and uncontrollable rage. An autopsy did reveal high levels of the metals, 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.

In popular culture

  • The 1985 movie Bloody Wednesday was based on the events of the massacre.
  • Death Metal band Macabre based a song called McMassacre on their album Gloom.


Search another word or see swcdon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature