The Horrific McDonald's Massacre | James Huberty | Part Two

(Left: James Huberty, Centre: Investigators at the scene. Right: McDonald's employees. Photo credit: Daily Mail

Continued from part one...

Despite the picture of a happy family and lovely home, cracks began to appear. There was trouble in the Huberty household with James flying off the handle at times and assaulting his wife. His fixation with guns had gotten worse and soon he had a huge collection, visitors to the house would later say that he had that many guns up stacked up against the walls that all he had to do was reach out his arm and he could grab one straight away. 

James made his neighbours nervous on various occasions, they would hear gunfire coming from the Hubertys' basement at night where James had built a makeshift shooting range. There was ''No Trespassing'' signs all around the outside of the house and he also had a guard dog. In one incident, one of the neighbours had told James that his dog had damaged his car, the next minute, James took the dog to the back of the house where he shot it dead. The neighbour was upset about this and said that to James that there was no need for him to have done that, James responded ''I believe in paying my debts both good and bad.''

There would be times when the neighbours would see James stood on his front porch, pointing a gun at them and laughing before going back inside the house. They would also see him from time to time, sat on his porch, gazing into space with a gun in his lap. 

Nobody felt comfortable around him, even the pastor who conducted his marriage to Etna said that he seemed like a man who was overshadowed by inner demons. His former co-workers would say the same. 

During James' violent outbursts, Etna would attempt to calm him down by pretending to read his future on tarot cards. She would tell him that she saw a lot of success in his future and that he would come into a lot of money. James spent thousands on guns and non perishable food because he was convinced that the American government was out to get him and that America would soon be at war. The Hubertys' began to suffer financial difficulties which only made James worse. 

In 1982 things took an even more sour turn when James lost his welding job of 13 years. An ex-co worker later said that James was so angry that he spoke of getting revenge and talked of shooting someone. James told the man ''If this is the end of me, I am going to take everyone with me.''

Now that he had lost his job, James became even more paranoid about the government and believed that they were behind him losing his job. He would hear voices in his head telling him to commit suicide and told people that he was German. 

His erratic behaviour settled a little bit when he managed to get another job as a welder in another plant but this was short lived and he was only in the job for a few months before he was let go due the the plant closing down which he also blamed the government for. 

Around this time, James had apparently attempted suicide as the money troubles and bills piled up. The Hubertys' were forced to sell their beloved home for only $69,000 and the family relocated to Tijuana in Mexico. James put all of the families essential items and valuables in storage but he took all of his guns with him. Whilst in Mexico, James was his usual miserable and distant self but his wife and daughters seemed to get along well with the locals. The family were only in Mexico for three months before James decided that he'd had enough and they moved to the San Ysidro area of San Diego in California. 

The family had first rented a two bedroom apartment in the Cottonwood Apartments and James managed to get a job as a security guard. The job did nothing to calm his behaviour and he was still acting erratic. There was an incident where he approached a police officer claiming to be a war criminal and the voices in his head were still troubling him. 

The family relocated to another apartment when James starting working as a security guard. 

After just one month in his new job he was fired due to his odd and unpredictable behaviour. At this point James thought that he had hit rock bottom. 

On the 25th of July 1984, James told Etna that he was really struggling psychologically and needed professional help. Two days later he managed to get hold of a phone number for a mental health clinic and tried to get an appointment as soon as possible. James spoke politely to the receptionist on the phone and she took that to mean that his situation wasn't urgent so she noted down for him to receive a call within 48 hours, she also wrote his name down wrong. The receptionist told him that he would be contacted by someone as soon as someone was available. James sat by the phone patiently waiting and scared to move in case he missed the call. 

As the hours went by, the hope for professional help and support was slowly sinking down the drain and James started to lose hope and became frustrated. He possibly thought that nobody cared. As more time passed by and no call came, James suddenly got up, walked out of the apartment and got on his motorcycle without telling anyone where he was going.

After an hour, James returned and he seemed to be in a much better mood than what he had left in. James and Etna took the girls to the park for a little while and then they came home and watched a movie.

The next morning, the 18th of July 1984, the Huberty family went to the zoo. As his daughters were enjoying looking at the animals and Etna walked alongside him, James told her that he felt his life was over and talked about his disappointment that the mental health clinic did not contact him, saying ''Well, society had their chance,''

After the zoo, the family went to a McDonald's restaurant in the Clairemont neighbourhood of San Diego for something to eat before returning home. 

Once the family were back in their apartment and Etna went to the bedroom to have a lay down due to the heat of the day, James appeared in the room and started to change his clothes. He put on a red t-shirt and green camouflage slacks. He then leaned toward Etna and said ''I want to kiss you goodbye''.

Etna thought this was strange because he wasn't the affectionate or romantic type and never kissed her goodbye whenever he left to go to places before. She asked him where he was going and he said ''Going hunting....hunting for humans.''

He picked up a bundle of something which was wrapped in a checked blanket and as he walked towards the front door he could see his daughter, Zelia watching him. He said ''Goodbye, I won't be back.''

James Huberty drove down the San Ysidro Boulevard and drove towards the Big Bear supermarket and then towards a post office branch, (according to witnesses) before driving into the parking lot of McDonald's which was 200 yards (180m) from his apartment. 

As he stepped out of the vehicle, he had in his possession, a 9mm Uzi Carbine, 9mm Browning HP, 12-gauge Winchester 1200 and a bag filled with hundreds of rounds of ammunition for each weapon.

Continued in part three...

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