City to Build ‘Some Type’ of Tribute at Massacre Site

Times Staff Writer

Nearly two years after the worst mass slaying episode in U.S. history occurred at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, San Diego officials have decided to erect up a memorial where 21 people were killed and 19 others were wounded.

City officials have not decided how large the memorial will be nor what form it will take, said George Penn, an assistant to City Manager Sylvester Murray.

“We are talking with Councilman (Uvaldo) Martinez and other interested parties in the community,” Penn said. “Basically, we are still trying to find a happy medium that will please everyone, something that is fitting as a memorial.”

On July 18, 1984, James Oliver Huberty walked into the restaurant screaming, “I’m going to kill you all!” and began firing indiscriminately. For more than an hour, Huberty sprayed the room and the parking lot with gunfire until he was shot and killed by police.


On Thursday, Murray told the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce that the memorial might consist of a fountain surrounded by landscaping and walkways, with some of the property used for a parking lot. The site, 522 W. San Ysidro Blvd., is adjacent to a post office along a commercial stretch of the busy thoroughfare.

McDonald’s Corp. began a nighttime demolition of the building less than a week after the slayings. The three-quarter-acre site was donated to the city in 1984, but the lot has remained vacant while officials debated whether to build a monument or to sell or lease the property.

The possibility of a memorial on the site had been an issue in the San Ysidro community, with many people arguing that it would be a tribute to a murderer. But many relatives of people who died in the massacre have requested that some sort of monument be built.

In the weeks after the massacre, nearly 30,000 people signed a petition requesting that a memorial be erected.


Some residents who once opposed a monument now say something should be done with the site, which is overgrown with weeds and strewn with debris.

“Anything is better than what they presently have there now, which is nothing but a vacant lot and litter,” said William Herr, manager of a Radio Shack store two doors from the site.

Herr, past president of the San Ysidro Rotary Club, had opposed building a memorial.

“I would like to see something done with it as long as it is something that is done constructively,” he says now.


Penn said it is important that the people of San Ysidro realize that San Diego has not forgotten about the massacre.

“I think the important thing is that the city is doing something,” Penn said. “I think that many people in the community felt that it was put on a back burner. People felt the city wasn’t concerned.”