The 12-year-old daughter of James Oliver Huberty, the man...

SAN DIEGO -- The 12-year-old daughter of James Oliver Huberty, the man who killed 21 people in a McDonald's restaurant, said she understands her father was mentally ill, but she misses him anyway.

'Part of me will remember him as a very nice person, loving, gentle and kind,' said Zelia Huberty. 'Another part will remember him as a violent person.'


In an interview published Thursday in the San Diego Union, Huberty's two daughters and his widow, Etna, spoke of last July's mass killing, which was the worst rampage by a lone gunman in U.S. history.

'It's rather a difficult thing to forget,' Mrs. Huberty said.

Huberty's widow lives about four miles from the massacre scene and sends her two daughters to school under an assumed name.

On July 18, Huberty, 41, an unemployed security guard, walked into the McDonald's in San Diego's border suburb of San Ysidro and started blasting away with three guns. By the time a police sniper shot him more than an hour later, he had killed 21 people and wounded 19 others.

Today Etna Huberty lives in an apartment in Chula Vista, a city in San Diego's South Bay area, with Zelia and Cassandra, 10.


Her relatives urged her to change her name, too, but she refused. 'I've never taken the easy way out,' she said.

Zelia said she doesn't mind the name change because without it, 'People will know and then they will harass me.'

'On my papers, sometimes I write 'Huberty,'' said Cassandra. 'It's hard to remember.'

Reflecting on her life with Huberty, Etna said, 'I always figured there was a good possibility of him killing me one day.'

She said he once pointed a gun at her.

'I didn't become afraid for the girls until after February,' she said, when her husband got angry with Zelia.

'She went flying into her bedroom with an Uzi pointed at her,' Etna said.

The Uzi was the Israeli semi-automatic, 9-mm rifle that Huberty used in the massacre.

But he never mistreated the girls, she said.

Both girls still love their father, Mrs. Huberty said, adding the younger one 'doesn't hold grudges,' and the older one 'realizes her father was ill.'

Zelia recalled seeing her father leave their apartment just before the massacre with 'a gun slung over his shoulder and a box so big with ammunition. He had on fatigues and another gun wrapped in a blanket.'


She said she thought he was going to the hills to shoot, since 'That's how he got rid of his anger.'

Zelia said she misses walks, bike rides and shopping with her father, but, 'I don't miss him babbling on about people that were talking to him, those voices. I don't miss him fighting and carrying on.'

She said she is different from other children 'because they'll never know what I saw. I thought I was in a nightmare, but I knew it was reality. To shoot people, little babies, you know, that would be quite ill.'

The girl saw some of the dead and wounded as she went past the restaurant with her mother shortly after the massacre to pick up her sister, who was visiting neighbors near the family's former apartment.

Latest Headlines


Follow Us