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 21 people killed and 19 others injured.
James Oliver Huberty was born in Canton, Ohio, his father bought a farm in the Pennsylvania Amish Country. He married and had two daughters then settled in Massillon, Ohio.
Huberty, a survivalist, saw signs of what he thought was growing trouble in America, and believed that government regulations were the cause of business failures, 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.
The Huberty family left Canton in January 1984 and briefly stayed in Tijuana, Mexico. They then returned to the United States and settled in San Diego's San Ysidro neighborhood. Huberty was able to find work as a security guard. He was dismissed from this position two weeks before 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 a meal at a McDonald's in the Clairemont neighborhood in northern San Diego a few hours before 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 her, "Society had its chance." 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 responding officers the wrong address.
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.
The massacre began at 3:59 p.m. and lasted for 77 minutes.
In 1986, Etna Huberty, James's widow, also tried (unsuccessfully) to sue McDonald's and Babcock and Wilcox, his longtime former employer, in an Ohio state court for $5 million. She claimed 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, 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.