This week (July 13-20) in crime history – Ruth Ellis was convicted of murder and would later be the last woman executed in Great Britain (July 13, 1955); Billy the Kid was shot to death (July 14, 1881); Richard Speck murdered eight nurses in Chicago (July 14, 1966); John Walker Lindh, The American Taliban pleaded guilty to weapons charges (July 15, 2002); Designer Gianni Versace was shot to death (July 15, 1997); Army doctor Jeffrey MacDonald murdered his family (July 16, 1979); Casey Anthony was released from jail (July 17, 2011); James Huberty shoots and kills 21 people at a San Diego area McDonald’s (July 18, 1984); Boxer Mike Tyson raped beauty pageant contestant (July 19, 1991)
Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
On July 18, 1984, James Huberty opened fire with automatic weapons in a crowded McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, California, killing 21 people and wounding 19 others. Minutes earlier, Huberty had left home, telling his wife, “I’m going hunting… hunting for humans.”
Huberty, who had a history of mental problems, lost his job in Ohio the previous year. He brought his family to San Diego and worked as a security guard until he was fired again, a month before the shootings. His wife claimed that Huberty called a mental health clinic to make an appointment for counseling but was never called back. He had an obsession with guns.
Bringing several of these weapons, including a 9mm automatic pistol and semiautomatic rifle, into the McDonald’s two miles from the Mexican border, Huberty demanded that the 45 patrons get on the floor. He then walked around the restaurant, calmly shooting people. He killed 20 in the first ten minutes, including four who tried to escape. There were so many shots fired that the police first assumed that there was more than one gunman inside. Shooting at a fire truck that responded to the scene, Huberty also grazed one firefighter with a bullet.
An hour after the shooting began, an employee managed to escape through the basement and inform the SWAT team that Huberty was alone and without hostages. With this information, sharpshooters were told to “take him out.” A marksman sent a shot through Huberty’s chest and killed him. After making sure that he was dead, police finally entered the restaurant.
Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: