By Daniel L. Muñoz
Publisher, La Prensa San Diego
It is difficult to accept that Jerry Sanders believes that the Mexican American population, of the City of San Diego, could ever forget or forgive his role in the massacre that was carried out by James Oliver Huberty, at four O’clock in the afternoon, on the 18th of July 1984, at the San Ysidro McDonalds restaurant in San Ysidro. When the violence and smoke had cleared, on that day, 22 victims lay dead, and 15 others lay seriously wounded! The majority of the victims were Mexican American children, their mothers, younger brothers and sisters and a few Grandmothers. Jerry Sanders, on that day, was the commander of the San Diego Police Departments SWAT team!
In the aftermath, of the massacre, questions began to surface. Where were the police from the San Ysidro Police Outpost? Where was the SWAT team and their Commander, Jerry Sanders? Why was their response time so slow? Why was the police station in San Ysidro so lightly armed and short of personnel? Why did it take so long for the SWAT team to arrive?
We cannot forget that while James Oliver Huberty was busy murdering the innocent victims, Jerry Sanders, who was the Commander of the Swat team, was busy drinking with other policemen at a special police event in Mission Bay. We can’t forget that the members of the SWAT team couldn’t get into their armored vehicle. Someone had misplaced the necessary 2nd key to the vehicle. Could it be that Jerry Sanders had it?
Why did Jerry Sanders rescind the orders, given by the Police Lieutenant on the scene, for a police sniper to take out Huberty? Many lives could have been saved. Why did the Commander of the Swat team, who was not on the scene, override the commands of the senior police officer present on the site of the massacre? Isn’t it policy that the on-site senior officer is the commander until relieved on the scene? Why were the on-site police ordered to lie for over 40 minutes behind walls while the murderous Huberty continued his slaughter of the innocent children, women, teenagers and senior citizen?
It was revealing that the leadership of the Police Department failed to promote him for 13 times to a significant post thereafter. However on May 17, 1993, City Manager Jack McGrory picked him to succeed Chief Bob Burgreen. Mayor Golding and her City Council approved the promotion. It is also instructive to note that the rank and file, within the Department, highly disapproved of Jerry Sanders.
Unanswered questions still remain that need to be asked of Mr. Sanders: Why didn’t you order the on scene commander to lob tear gas and/or smoke bombs to roust Huberty out before so many innocents were massacred? Why was the Police substation in San Ysidro so seriously under-manned and under-armed? Why did two Staff Officers, who had no “fire-fight” experience, lead the attack against Huberty? Was it because your Line Officers were partying with you? Why did you order that “Command and Control” of the massacre site be turned over to you while you were 20 miles away from McDonalds Restaurant?
As the Commander of the SWAT team, its Armored Van, and Personnel, you knew it took two keys, one held by the SWAT Commander and the other by Central Division Officer to open the SWAT Van? Didn’t you have the 2nd required key in your pocket while you partied?
As you can see, the Mexican American community has a lot of unanswered questions about your abilities and leadership. You were the man in the hot seat on July 18, 1984 when a man named James Oliver Huberty decided to murder 22 people in San Ysidro. We know that the Chief of Police was W.B. Kolender, and that the Mayor was Roger Hedgecock. In spite of the role that Sanders played in the San Ysidro massacre, City Manager Jack McGrory picked Sanders to succeed Chief Bob Burgreen as San Diego’s Police Chief. Mayor Susan Golding and the City Council went along with it. Politics played a prominent role in his selection as Sanders was held in low esteem by a large segment of the Police force.
Now, the Republican leadership of San Diego is trying to have Mr. Jerry Sanders elected as the next Mayor of San Diego. La Prensa San Diego cannot accept the Republicans choice of Mr. Sanders to be the City of San Diego’s next Mayor! It is our opinion that the Republican leadership has a death wish and rather than support the best in their Party, they continue to foist upon the citizens the worse candidates that they have.
Especially, since the next Mayor will be the first one that will operate under a “Chicago- style” strong Mayor system of governance.
The Mexican American voters will find it very difficult to accept Jerry Sanders as their next Mayor. His incompetence, in the Massacre of 22 of their community by James Oliver Huberty, places in the limelight, the total incompetence and leadership of Mr. Jerry Sanders forever!