When James Holmes murderously interrupted the new Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, opening fire and killing 12 people and injuring 58 others, it was a sickening deja vu for many of us here in San Diego.
On July 18, 1984, recently fired security guard James Huberty told his wife he was going “hunting for humans” and walked three blocks from his apartment to the McDonald’s restaurant near the San Diego-Tijuana border. He fired away for 77 minutes in what must have seemed like a hellish eternity, snuffing out the lives of young, old, men, women, kids and 8 month old Carlos Reyes — firing 257 rounds of ammunition, murdering 12 people and injuring 19 before his destructive existence was mercifully ended by a sniper.
I was one of many staffers on The San Diego Union drafted into covering the story. The most haunting photo of the event was of a kid’s bike on the ground — a bike earlier ridden by Omar Hernandez, 11, who was unlucky enough to be riding too close to the restaurant where Huberty systematically emptied his weapons into the bodies of anyone in sight.
In 1985 I was assigned to be part of a team to do the inevitable “year after” story. An editor told me that since I spoke Spanish I was to go down to Baja, California and find the relatives of some of the Mexican murdered victims and ask how they felt a year later. Of course, the answer was evident beforehand but to see it first hand was stunning. These were relatives and friends whose lives were forever changed, not just due to the loss of a loved one, but how in their minds-eye they literally could feel the terror of their loved ones last minutes or seconds of their lives.
But so many others touch by the trauma were impacted for years as well: the first responders, bystanders at the scene, editors, and reporters. It was a centipede of trauma.
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