30 years ago today: The massacre at McDonald’s in San Ysidro

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Inside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, where many of the 21 victims were memorialized

 

You can see Mexico from just outside the hilltop of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in San Ysidro

You can see Mexico from just outside the hilltop of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in San Ysidro

It’s been very challenging, but I’ve spent a lot of time this year thinking about the massacre thirty years ago at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California.  The anniversary of that awful day is today.

In March, I visited the site to talk with people who were involved with the enormous task of helping the community to heal.

Sadly, mass shootings in public places have become something that’s become all too common, but back in 1984, it was a shocking event that gripped the nation.  At the time, it was the worst such massacre in our nation’s history.

The sculpture erected on the site of the former McDonald's in San Ysidro, now a community college.

The sculpture erected on the site of the former McDonald’s in San Ysidro, now a community college.

The names of those killed by the gunman, James Huberty.

The names of those killed by the gunman, James Huberty.

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The former site of the McDonald’s where the massacre took place is now a community college

There’s a strong Joan Kroc connection here, which is the reason for my interest: Mrs. Kroc helped the families of the victims’ in an important, and compassionate way.  She gave the initial donation to the victim’s fund, to help those who couldn’t pay for burials and other expenses associated with lost income.  Then, she spent time in the border town visiting with the locals to hear their stories.  You wouldn’t necessarily expect an heiress to go mingle with poor, despondent people.  But that’s the kind of person Joan Kroc was.

She was even, controversially, compassionate toward the widow of the gunman, James Huberty, who had (unsuccessfully) sought counseling the day before he went on the rampage and took so many lives.

Sharing photos today of the place in memory of the people who died, and to remind us how the underlying issues of mental health and gun control are ones that have been part of the public dialogue for some time–with very little progress made.

After much public outcry, McDonald's agreed not to re-open on the site of the tragedy, but instead set up shop up the street

After much public outcry, McDonald’s agreed not to re-open on the site of the tragedy, but instead set up shop up the street. The corporation donated the land of the original site to the city.

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