HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » 35 Years Ago Today; 21 de...

Thu Jul 18, 2019, 05:45 AM

35 Years Ago Today; 21 dead at the San Ysidro McDonald's massacre


The San Ysidro McDonald's massacre occurred on July 18, 1984, when 41-year-old James Huberty fatally shot 21 people and wounded 19 others in a mass shooting at a McDonald's restaurant in the San Ysidro neighborhood of San Diego, California, before being killed by a police sniper.

The shooting ranked as the deadliest mass shooting committed in the United States until the 1991 Luby's shooting in Killeen, Texas, and is now the seventh-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

At approximately 3:56 p.m. on July 18, Huberty drove his black Mercury Marquis sedan into the parking lot of the McDonald's restaurant on San Ysidro Boulevard. In his possession were a 9mm Browning HP semi-automatic pistol, a 9mm Uzi carbine, a Winchester 1200 12 gauge pump-action shotgun, and a cloth bag filled with hundreds of rounds of ammunition for each weapon. A total of 50 customers were present inside the restaurant.

Entering the restaurant minutes later, Huberty first aimed his shotgun at a 16-year-old employee named John Arnold. The assistant manager, Guillermo Flores, shouted, "Hey, John, that guy's going to shoot you!" According to Arnold, when Huberty pulled the trigger, "nothing happened." As Huberty inspected his gun, the manager of the restaurant, 22-year-old Neva Caine, walked toward the service counter of the restaurant in the direction of Arnold, as Arnold—believing the incident to be a distasteful joke—began to walk away from the gunman. Huberty fired his shotgun toward the ceiling before aiming the Uzi at Caine, shooting her once beneath her left eye. Caine died minutes later.

Immediately after shooting Caine, Huberty fired his shotgun at Arnold, wounding the teenager in the chest, before shouting a comment to the effect of, "Everybody on the ground." Huberty referred to all present in the restaurant as "dirty swines," shouting that he had killed thousands and that he intended to "kill a thousand more." Upon hearing Huberty's profane rant and seeing Caine and Arnold shot, one customer, 25-year-old Victor Rivera, tried to persuade Huberty not to shoot anyone else. In response, Huberty shot Rivera 14 times, repeatedly shouting "shut up" as Rivera screamed in pain.

As most of the customers tried to hide beneath tables and service booths, Huberty turned his attention toward six women and children huddled together. He first killed 19-year-old María Colmenero-Silva with a single gunshot to the chest, then fatally shot nine-year-old Claudia Perez in the stomach, cheek, thigh, hip, leg, chest, back, armpit, and head with his Uzi. He then wounded Perez's 15-year-old sister Imelda once in the chest with the same weapon, and fired upon 11-year-old Aurora Peña with the shotgun. Peña—initially wounded in the leg—had been shielded by her pregnant aunt, 18-year-old Jackie Reyes. Huberty shot Reyes 48 times with the Uzi. Beside his mother's body, eight-month-old Carlos Reyes sat up and wailed, whereupon Huberty shouted and killed the baby with a single pistol shot to the center of the back.

Huberty shot and killed a 62-year-old trucker named Laurence Versluis, before targeting one of the families near the play area of the restaurant, who had tried to shield their children beneath the tables with their bodies. Blythe Regan Herrera (aged 31) had shielded her 11-year-old son, Mateo, beneath one booth, and her husband Ronald protected 12-year-old Keith Thomas under a booth across from them. Huberty began shooting people seated in the restaurant as he walked toward those under the tables. Ronald Herrera urged Thomas not to move, shielding the boy with his body. Thomas was shot in the shoulder, arm, wrist, and left elbow, but was not seriously wounded; Ronald Herrera was shot eight times in the stomach, chest, arm, and head but survived; his wife, Blythe, and son, Mateo, were both killed by numerous gunshots to the head.

Killed inside restaurant:
Elsa Herlinda Borboa-Firro (19)
Neva Denise Caine (22)
Michelle Deanne Carncross (18)
María Elena Colmenero-Silva (19)
Gloria López González (22)
Blythe Regan Herrera (31)
Matao Herrera (11)
Paulina Aquino López (21)
Margarita Padilla (18)
Claudia Perez (9)
Jose Rubén Lozano-Perez (19)
Carlos Reyes (8 months)
Jackie Lynn Wright Reyes (18)
Victor Maxmillian Rivera (25)
Arisdelsi Vuelvas-Vargas (31)
Hugo Luis Velazquez Vasquez (45)
Laurence Herman Versluis (62)

Killed outside restaurant:
David Flores Delgado (11)
Omarr Alonso Hernandez (11)
Miguel Victoria-Ulloa (74)
Aida Velazquez Victoria (69)

Injured but not killed:
Juan Acosta (33)
John Arnold (16)
Anthony Atkins (36)
Astolfo Cejundo (26)
Joshua Coleman (11)
Guadalupe del Rio (24)
Astolfo Felix (31)
Karlita Felix (4 months)
Maricela Felix (23)
Ronald Herrera (33)
Alberto Leos (17)
Francisco Lopez (22)
Aurora Peña (11)
Imelda Perez (15)
Maria Rivera (25)
Mireya Rivera (4)
Keith Thomas (12)
Juan Tokano (33)
Kenneth Villegas (22)

Nearby, two women had attempted to hide beneath a booth. Guadalupe del Rio, 24, was against a wall; she was shielded by her friend, 31-year-old Arisdelsi Vuelvas Vargas. Del Rio was hit several times in the back, abdomen, chest, and neck, but was not seriously wounded, whereas Vargas received a single gunshot wound to the back of the head. She died of her wound the next day, the only person fatally wounded who lived long enough to reach a hospital. At another booth, Huberty killed 45-year-old banker Hugo Velazquez Vasquez with a shot to the chest.

The first of many calls to emergency services was made at 4:00 p.m., although the dispatcher mistakenly directed responding officers to another McDonald's two miles (three kilometers) from the San Ysidro Boulevard restaurant. This meant that the restaurant was not locked down until several minutes later, and the only warnings about the shooter would come from passers-by outside in the meantime. Shortly after 4:00, a young woman named Lydia Flores drove into the parking lot. Stopping at the food-pickup window, Flores noticed shattered windows and the sound of gunfire, before "looking up and there he was, just shooting." Flores reversed her car until she crashed into a fence; she hid with her two-year-old daughter until the shooting ended.

Three 11-year-old boys rode their bikes into the west parking lot to purchase ice cream. Hearing a member of the public yell something unintelligible from across the street, all three hesitated, before Huberty shot the three boys with his shotgun and Uzi. Joshua Coleman fell to the ground critically wounded in the back, arm, and leg; he later recalled looking toward his two friends, Omarr Alonso Hernandez and David Flores Delgado, noting that Hernandez was on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds to his back and had started vomiting; Delgado had received several gunshot wounds to his head. Coleman survived; Hernandez and Delgado both died at the scene. Huberty next noticed an elderly couple, Miguel Victoria Ulloa (74) and Aida Velazquez Victoria (69), walking toward the entrance. As Miguel reached to open the door for his wife, Huberty fired his shotgun, killing Aida with a gunshot to the face and wounding Miguel. An uninjured survivor, Oscar Mondragon, later reported that he had seen Miguel cradling his wife in his arms and wiping blood from her face. Miguel shouted curses at Huberty, who approached and killed him with a shot to the head.

At approximately 4:10 p.m., a Mexican couple, Astolfo and Maricela Felix, drove toward one of the service areas of the restaurant. Noting the shattered glass, Astolfo initially thought renovation work was in progress and that Huberty—striding toward the car—was a repairman. Huberty fired his shotgun and Uzi at the couple and their four-month-old daughter, Karlita, striking Maricela in the face, arms and chest, blinding her in one eye and permanently rendering one hand unusable. Her baby was critically wounded in the neck, chest and abdomen. Astolfo was wounded in the chest and head. As Astolfo and Maricela staggered away from Huberty's line of fire, Maricela gave their baby to her husband. Astolfo handed the shrieking child to a young woman named Lucia Velasco as his wife collapsed against a car. Velasco rushed the baby to a nearby hospital as her husband assisted Astolfo and Maricela into a nearby building. All three members of the Felix family survived.

Police intervention
Approximately 10 minutes after the first 9-1-1 call was placed, the police arrived at the correct restaurant. They imposed a lockdown on an area spanning six blocks from the site of the shootings. The police established a command post two blocks from the restaurant, and deployed 175 officers in strategic locations. (These officers were joined within the hour by SWAT team members, who also took positions around the McDonald's restaurant. )

Several survivors later said they saw Huberty walk toward the service counter and adjust a portable radio, possibly to search for news reports, before selecting a music station and returning to shooting. Shortly thereafter, he searched the kitchen area, discovering six employees. He opened fire, killing 21-year-old Paulina López, 19-year-old Elsa Borboa-Fierro, and 18-year-old Margarita Padilla, and critically wounding 17-year-old Alberto Leos. Immediately before Huberty had begun shooting, Padilla had urged her friend and colleague, 17-year-old Wendy Flanagan, to run, before being fatally shot. Flanagan, four other employees and a female customer hid inside a basement utility room. They were later joined by Leos, who had crawled to the utility room after being shot multiple times.

When a fire engine truck drove within range, Huberty open fire and repeatedly pierced the vehicle with bullets, but did not wound any occupants. Hearing a wounded teenager, 19-year-old Jose Pérez, moaning, Huberty shot him in the head; the boy slumped dead in the booth. Pérez died alongside his friend and neighbor, 22-year-old Gloria González, and a young woman named Michelle Carncross. At one point, Aurora Peña, who had lain wounded beside her dead aunt, baby cousin and two friends, noted a lull in the firing. Opening her eyes, she saw Huberty nearby and staring at her. He swore and threw a bag of french fries at her, then retrieved his shotgun and shot her in the arm, neck, and chest. She survived, although she would be hospitalized longer than any other survivor. Occasionally, Huberty blurted justifications as he shot his victims.

By this time, the police had established a command post two blocks from the restaurant. They initially did not know how many shooters were inside, since Huberty was using firearms of several types, and rapidly firing shots. Because most of the restaurant's windows had been shattered by gunfire, reflections from shards of glass made it difficult for police to see inside. Charles "Chuck" Foster, a police SWAT sniper, was positioned on the roof of the post office next door to the McDonald's. He was authorized to kill the shooter should he have a clear shot.

It was like they had just stopped in time. All these bodies were lying around. Heads were slumped on the table ... the old man walking out the door was lying on the floor, donuts beside him. The two kids were dead by their bikes; the infant was dead in the arms of the people ... there were two burned hamburgers on the grill.
Dr. Tom A. Neuman. UC San Diego Medical Center/Life Flight physician, describing his initial impressions upon surveying the San Ysidro McDonald's restaurant.

End of incident
At 5:17 p.m., Foster, who was perched on the post office roof, obtained an unobstructed view of Huberty from the neck down for a few seconds through his telescopic sight attached to his rifle; he fired a single round from a range of around 35 yards (32 meters). The bullet entered Huberty's chest, severed the aorta just under his heart, and exited through his spine, leaving an exit wound one inch square and sending him sprawling backwards onto the floor directly in front of the service counter, killing him almost instantly.

The incident had lasted for 77 minutes, during which time Huberty fired a minimum of 245 rounds of ammunition, killing 20 people and wounding as many others, one of whom died the following day. Seventeen of the victims were killed inside the restaurant and four in the immediate vicinity. Several victims had tried to stanch their bleeding with napkins—often in vain. Of the fatalities, 13 died from gunshot wounds to the head, seven from gunshots to the chest, and one victim, 8-month-old Carlos Reyes, from a single 9mm gunshot to the back. The victims, whose ages ranged from eight months to 74 years, were predominantly, though not exclusively, of Mexican or Mexican-American ancestry, reflecting local demographics.

Although Huberty had shouted at the beginning of his shooting spree that he had "killed thousands" in a comment indicating he was a veteran of the Vietnam War, he had never actually served in any military branch.


35 years later, and this horror is still perpetuated, month after month, year after year.

6 replies, 512 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply 35 Years Ago Today; 21 dead at the San Ysidro McDonald's massacre (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Jul 18 OP
Skittles Jul 18 #1
Nay Jul 18 #5
JI7 Jul 18 #2
Beringia Jul 18 #3
StocktonNative Jul 18 #4
Blue_Tires Jul 18 #6

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Thu Jul 18, 2019, 06:13 AM

1. the picture of the child laying next to his bike

it's never left me

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Skittles (Reply #1)

Thu Jul 18, 2019, 09:12 AM

5. Me neither. A child going to get some ice cream. And the BABIES that were shot --

what kind of monster can shoot a tiny baby??


Reading this account also makes me realize how differently we treat active shooter incidents today. No police force today would ever consider waiting outside for 77 minutes, waiting for the sniper to eliminate the shooter. And all the people inside? Once this monster produced a gun, everyone would simply run away as fast as they could, even if it meant risking a bullet. Everyone knows to get out as fast as you can.

It's so sad that we live like this.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Thu Jul 18, 2019, 06:50 AM

2. i first heard about this when i bought some old magazines

i was a little kid when it actually happened and wasn't aware of anything about it at the time it actually happened.

i wonder why it was never really and still never really mentioned much when talking about mass shootings.

i read some other article on it later on and i think the wife got some of the money from some victim's fund.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Thu Jul 18, 2019, 07:14 AM

3. I just read about this the other day when I was looking up the Univ of Texas Massacre

The guy called for mental health help and waited several hours and when no one called him back, he said, well they had their chance and went out on his spree. What's amazing to me is I lived in San Diego then going to college and I don't remember the event happening. I must have been totally tuned out of the news or I have a really bad memory.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Thu Jul 18, 2019, 07:15 AM

4. I do remember this..

and it makes me sad to think of it and the ages of these people..including the kids. I was 17yo when his took place. RIP.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Thu Jul 18, 2019, 09:15 AM

6. Sadly, not a single lesson has been learned since...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread