Advertisement

A berserk gunman, screaming 'I've killed a thousand and...

By HILMER ANDERSON

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- A berserk gunman, screaming 'I've killed a thousand and I'll kill a thousand more,' slaughtered 20 men, women and children at a McDonald's restaurant Wednesday before a police marksman killed him to end the worst single massacre in the nation's history.

The killer was identified as James Oliver Huberty, 41, a balding, unemployed security guard who a neighbor described as a drug-user who 'went crazy' when his wife and children left him.

Advertisement

Armed with an automatic rifle, a shotgun and pistol, Huberty walked into the fast-food restaurant about a half mile from the Mexican border about 4 p.m. PDT.

'He just came in and started shooting,' said Police Lt. Paul Ybarrando.

Officers said Huberty, wearing military fatigues and a black T-shirt, opened fire with the automatic rifle, then with his other weapons, and patrons and passersby began falling.

'I've killed a thousand. I'll kill a thousand more,' witnesses quoted him as saying as the shooting began.

Seventeen persons, 'a lot of them children' were killed inside the restaurant in a bloody 10 minutes of rapid firing, police said. The other three were killed outside, one of them a young boy blasted from his bicycle.

Advertisement

Ten other persons managed to flee, some of them crashing out through the restaurant windows. Four hid inside the building during an hour and 10-minute standoff in which Huberty held off police.

Thirteen people were hospitalized, some in critical condition.

'It looked like something I've never seen before in my life -- men, women, little children all shot,' San Diego Police Chief William Kollender said.

'It was a sickening massacre,' he said.

One of the dead was a 4-month-old girl and a 4-year-old girl was wounded. Among the dead were a mother, father and their child.

San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock told reporters the shooting appeared to be an isolated act. 'It was the act of a single individual. It does not have anything to do with terrorism, the Olympics or anything else,' Hedgecock said.

Detective Ybarrando said the investigation 'all points to that of an isolated individual, possibly psychotic.'

Huberty had moved from Massillon, Ohio, last December to the border town San Ysidro district of San Diego with his wife and two children. He lived a block from the scene of the massacre.

A neighbor in the old apartment building where Huberty lived said he had moved recently from another location after a splitup with his wife.

Advertisement

The neighbor, Dusty Briseno, 16, said Huberty had become a drug-user after the breakup.

'He got violent on drugs,' Miss Briseno said. 'What caused it was that his wife left with the kids.

'He went crazy.'

After the initial outburst of shooting, police arrived and waited for more than an hour before a SWAT team marksman on a building top fired one shot and killed Huberty instantly. The slaughter was the worst multiple killing by a single gunman in U.S. history, topping the 1966 shooting of 16 people by a sniper firing on students from atop a tower at the University of Texas in Austin.

Victims dropped both inside and outside the fast-food restaurant, located near Interstate 5 about a half mile from the Mexican border in the San Diego district of San Ysidro.

'Even people lying on the floor were moaning,' one witness said. 'He would go through the crowd picking them off one by one.'

A teenage witness identifying himself only as Frank said the gunman, wearing camouflage pants and a black T-shirt, 'came in and just said 'freeze' and then he just started shooting. It was terrible. One woman got shot right here (pointing to his right temple).'

Advertisement

'They were simply caught eating their dinner and were killed on the spot,' said San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock, who toured the bloody scene with police. 'It was a barbaric act. It is a tragedy that will go beyond the lives that were lost.'

Hedgecock said he saw a family group, an elderly woman and some men in their 30s -- all dead inside the restaurant. Two men at a table were shot down as they ate, one falling to the ground and the other slumping head first into his dinner.

Other witnesses said a woman passed a wounded baby into the arms of onlookers during the shooting. She begged bystanders to take care of the child after she was wounded.

The infant was reported in stable condition with several wounds.

Two boys who rode their bicycles to the restaurant were killed immediately. Also killed were a woman and a man walking up to the door.

'There are piles of bodies in there,' Police Cmdr. Larry Gore said. 'The rifle shots could be heard up and down the street.'

One investigator said people inside and outside 'just didn't have a chance.'

The scene was a jumble of broken glass, blood and lifeless bodies. The restaurant's windows were riddled with bullet holes, as were several car windows.

Advertisement

The gunman's body was lying face down, his weapons at his side.

During the siege, police tried unsuccessfully to stop the shooting by trying to mediate. The gunman's wife was called to scene, but she never made contact with the killer, police said.

Kollender said the SWAT officers responded 'exactly the way they were taught.'

He said the police marksmen knew there were people still alive inside the building, but waited until they could pick the killer out and get a clear shot.

'Their restraint at that moment probably saved a number of lives,' the mayor said.

Police spokeswoman Ann Nance said, 'We had hostage negotiators there and homicide investigators and an attempt was made to contact him (the gunman), but it was unsuccessful. We were never able to contact him at all. He was shooting.'

There were 15 people inside the restaurant, she said. The wounded were rushed to three hospitals and a command post was set up to deal with the relatives of the victims who were with someone killed or injured.

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement