SAN DIEGO -- The site of the McDonald's restaurant where a gunman massacred 21 people and wounded 19 others last summer before being killed by a police sniper is now a vacant lot.
A bulldozer demolished the building Wednesday, pounding the stucco walls and red tile roof into a pile of rubble that was hauled off to a landfill.
The asphalt parking area will also be ripped out, leaving a vacant dirt lot for the McDonald Corporation to present to the city under an agreement that will ultimately result in some type of memorial being erected to those who died when James Huberty went on his rampage July 18.
Residents of the mostly Hispanic community of San Ysidro -- the suburban location of the restaurant -- have called for creation of a park on the property in memory of the dead.
The City Council has not decided exactly what it will do with the site. A community service center has been mentioned, but 24,000 San Diego and Tijuana residents and visitors have signed a petition in favor of a memorial park.
Huberty, an unemployedsecurity guard, told his wife, Etna, shortly before the massacre that he had been 'hearing voices.' He called a local mental health clinic, but was told someone would get back to him.
On July 18, Huberty told his wife that he was off to 'hunt humans,' and then stormed into the nearby McDonald's with a shotgun, an Uzi semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm pistol. Before he was shot more than an hour after entering the restaurant, he had killed 21 and wounded 19. The victims ranged in age from six months to 74 years.
San Ysidro, located on the Mexican border, is heavily Hispanic. Mexican culture regards as sacred the place where a person dies and the soul leaves the body. Mourners have been placing candles on the low brick wall in front of the empty brick building since the massacre.
McDonald's offered to donate the site to the city on the condition that whatever memorial is placed there must not mention the McDonald's name.
Just getting rid of the building, once a popular neighborhood gathering place, was a relief to some people.
Police Officer Irving Escobedo, from the San Ysidro substation, watched from his patrol car as the restaurant was pulled down.
'I'm glad to see it come down,' said Escobedo, who was the second officer to reach the scene during the massacre. 'This gives me an inner feeling of relief.'