Crime

Clinic Failed James Huberty Before He Killed 21 People

| by Zara Zhi

On July 18, 1984, a 41-year-old man walked into a San Diego McDonald's and committed one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

That man, James Huberty, killed 21 people and injured 19 others before he was fatally shot by a SWAT team sniper.

Huberty’s troubling story was later reawakened in a front page post on social media site Reddit. The thread linked to a Wikipedia entry about the San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre, which describes the chain of events leading up to the mass shooting.

Three days before the incident, on July 15, Huberty confessed to his wife, Etna, that he may have a mental problem. Two days later he called a mental health clinic asking for an appointment, and left his contact information with the receptionist.

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The clinic told Huberty someone would get back to him within a few hours. He waited by the phone for several hours until hastily walking out of his house to ride his motorcycle to an unknown location, according to Etna.

What Huberty did not know was that the operator had misspelled his name as “Shouberty.” Due to his calm and quiet manner, the receptionist labeled his call as a “non-crisis” inquiry to be processed within two days.

The following morning, Huberty took his wife and daughters out to the San Diego Zoo and told Etna his life was over. When referring to the mental health clinic’s failure to return his call, he said, “Well, society had their chance.”

Later that day, after eating at McDonald’s, the couple returned home. Then, Huberty went into the bedroom and kissed his wife goodbye. When Etna asked where he was going, he replied, “going hunting humans.”

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He had weapons hidden in a checkered blanket and walked out the front door after telling his elder daughter “Goodbye. I won’t be back.”

Huberty then drove to a McDonald’s 200 yards from his apartment and started shooting.

One Reddit user responded to the story by writing about his own experience dealing with mental illness.

"I called a local crisis center once because I was near suicidal and sought counseling," the user said. "I was told to 'talk to a friend' instead. Thanks for nothing.”

Sources: Reddit, Wikipedia / Photo credit: Tumblr

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