July 18, 1984 – it was a warm summer afternoon when James Oliver Huberty opened fire on the McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro. This horrifying event, which has been referred to as one of the “Most shocking acts of violence in American history” lasted the 77 minutes in which time 257 rounds of ammunition were fired from a Winchester pump-action shotgun and a 9mm Browning semi-automatic handgun. Before a SWAT sniper fired the shot that killed Huberty, he wounded 19 people and took the lives of 21 people between the age of 8 months and 74 years.
Huberty was a man with a trouble past. 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 a better target.
After razing the ravaged site, McDonald's built another restaurant nearby and gave the former property to the city, which established the Education Center on the site as part of Southwestern Community College. In front of the school is a memorial to the massacre victims, consisting of 21 hexagonal white marble ranging in height from one to six feet and each bearing the name of one of the victims. Every anniversary, the monument is decorated with flowers and on Dia de Los Muertos (the Mexican holiday “Day of the Dead”) candles and offerings are brought on behalf of the victims.