San Diego’s name has come up a lot in the last two days as people have tried to understand the enormity of the Virginia Tech shootings.

Here’s a look back at a short New York Times story about the day in 1984 when San Ysidro became the site of what, at that time, was dubbed “the worst single day massacre by a lone gunman in United States history:”

One afternoon last week, in the California border community of San Ysidro, near San Diego, James Oliver Huberty, an unemployed security guard, put on combat fatigues and told his wife he was ”going hunting humans.” Armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and two other firearms, Mr. Huberty then walked to a nearby McDonald’s restaurant and began shooting. Before a police marksman shot him dead, 90 minutes later, he had killed 21 people and injured 19.

It was the worst single-day massacre by a lone gunman in United States history. ”He turned around and started shooting everything in sight,” said Police Chief Bill Kolender. ”The guy fired just eight million times.”

The dead included restaurant workers, customers — many of them children — and passersby. The toll could go higher; Some of the 19 people who were hospitalized were said to be in guarded condition.

 San Diego County’s coroner said an autopsy showed that Mr. Huberty, who had moved to the area in December after losing another job, at a power-plant construction site in Ohio, ”had no physical defects whatsoever” and had not been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

 ”There is no known motive for the shooting,” a police spokesman said. “However, Huberty had seemed somewhat despondent over the recent loss of his job.”

Mrs. Huberty apologized in a letter to a local television station.

”I am truly sorry for the problems that my husband caused,” she said. ”I don’t believe he came into this community with that type of intention. In a normal state of mind, he loved children, in particular little girls. He would never harm a child.”

Joan Kroc, the widow of the McDonald’s founder, established the San Ysidro Family Survivors Fund to help pay for medical treatment, counseling and rehabilitation for the victims and relatives.

Mrs. Kroc, a San Diego resident, started the fund with a personal contribution of $100,000. The McDonald’s Corporation donated $1 million.

A 1996 shooting of three professors at SDSU has also been mentioned frequently as news organizations have put together a chronology of campus shootings. Here’s a link to a story on that tragedy as well.


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