The Story of Luby’s Shooting

Luby’s shooting took place on the 16th of October 1991 at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. It was National Boss’s Day, a day meant for the celebration of achievements. However, that day was severely marred by a man named George Hennard, and the lives of the families of more than 20 victims were changed forever.

Hennard’s Entry

35-year-old George Hennard’s drove a Ford Ranger pickup truck through the plate-glass front window of the Cafeteria to the east of the cafeteria’s entrance. He ran over a table of diners and continued to drive forward into another before coming to a stop. At first, onlookers and patrons thought the crash was an accident. One of the patrons of the cafeteria, Tommy Vaughn had braced himself to help the driver from the truck.

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Picture of George Jo Hennard, Source: crimescenedb.com

It was at that moment Hennard extended his arm through the driver’s side window with a gun in hand. Hennard got out from the blue Ford and started shooting sporadically. He shot his first victim – a female cashier – at close range. The cafeteria was filled with confusion, but the gunshots continued.

The Massacre Continues

The cafeteria was crowded on that day with about 150 people. Hennard opened fire on the staff of Luby’s Cafeteria and confused patrons at the serving line using a 9mm Glock 17 pistol and a 9mm Ruger P89 pistol. Many of the patrons had ducked under tables, and the restaurant was in grave silence. The gunman began to stalk and single out victims in the restaurant.

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A policeman stands in front of the Luby’s cafeteria, 17 October 1991, in Killeen, where 22 people were massacred after a gunman opened fire in the crowded cafeteria before killing himself, 16 October 1991. (Photo credit should read GARY EDWARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

He shouted profanities at female patrons in the restaurant, telling them that this was what the women of Bell County made him do. He killed a total of 22 people around the dining room and serving line, ten of them with single headshots, and injured another 27. Three days later, his 23rd and last victim surrendered to her injuries. Hennard reloaded at least two magazines of ammo before the arrival of the police.

An Escape Route For Some

During the shooting, one of the patrons, Tommy Vaughn, decided to act. Vaughn who stood at 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 347 pounds threw his weight on the plate of the glass window at the back of the restaurant. He kicked his way through the restaurant’s rear window. Although he sustained injuries, was able to create an escape route for himself and several others.

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George Hennard’s Pickup truck. Source: aoav.org.uk

The sound of the shattering window drew the gunman’s attention, as he shot the wall next to the glass multiple times. The restaurant remained silent while patrons tried to pass through the window hole Vaughn created without drawing Hennard’s attention.

The End Of The Gunman

Hennard had a gun to Rev. Kirby Lack’s head, also a patron in the restaurant, who was trying to save his friend Michael Griffith, one of the victims Hennard had shot. Then the police arrived at the scene. Two officers, Kenneth Olson, and Chuck Longwell gained entry into the restaurant through the hole Vaughn had created. Perhaps Hennard got startled by the officers’ yells, he missed his shot on Lack’s head, and the bullet went through the carpet, close to his face. The police repeatedly told Hennard to surrender, but he refused, saying he was going to kill more people.

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A diagram of the crime scene at Luby’s Cafeteria after George Hennard murdered 23 people and committed suicide on October 16, 1991, with the locations of the victims marked by rectangular blocks. Source: tumblr.com

Hennard engaged the officers in a brief shootout which earned him some injuries. He retreated to the restaurant’s bathroom alcove where he pulled the trigger of his Ruger P89 to his right temple. After 12 minutes of terror that seemed like forever to those hiding silently under tables and chairs, Hennard laid dead in the bathroom alcove.

What Could Have Been Hennard’s Motive

At that time, George Hennard was an unemployed man who had been dismissed from Merchant Marine for possession of marijuana. Folks who knew Hennard described him as withdrawn, aggressive, easily angered. Several reports included accounts of Hennard’s expressed hatred of women. Early on in the investigation of the shooting, it was also found that Hennard had stalked two sisters who were residents in his neighborhood before the incident.

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Texas Governor Ann Richards mourns the victims killed by George J. Hennard during a memorial service. — Photo by Bob Daemmrich/Corbis Sygma (Photo by Bob E. Daemmrich/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

One of his former roommates was quoted saying, “Hennard hated blacks, Hispanics, gays. He said women were snakes and always had derogatory remarks about them, especially after fights with his mother.” Survivors from Luby’s Cafeteria said Hennard had passed over men to shoot women. Out of the 23 people Hennard killed, 14 were women, as were many of the injured victims.

Gun Rights Law

Following the incident, Suzanna Hupp, who was at Luby’s Cafeteria on the day of the shooting; where Hennard killed her parents became a gun rights activist. Hupp testified before Congress to support concealed-weapons laws, believing that if people had access to weapons, she and other victims would have been able to fight back, and her parents and other victims of the shooting might have had a chance to survive.

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Suzanna Gratia Hupp, left, is seen comforting another young woman at the scene of the mass shooting at the Luby’s Cafeteria on Oct. 16, 1991. As a member of Congress, Gratia Hupp was a major proponent of concealed handgun license laws that were enacted after the shooting. Source: kdhnews.com

In 1996, Hupp was elected to the Texas House of Representatives and helped pass a concealed-weapons bill signed by then-governor George W. Bush.

The Aftermath of the Incident

Today, a pink granite memorial stands behind the Killeen Community Center with the date of the incident and the names of victims whom were killed.

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A memorial to the victims of the Luby’s shooting in Killeen. Source: texasmonthly.com

Luby’s Massacre is currently ranked as the 6th deadliest mass shooting in America by a single shooter just behind Sunday’s murder of 26 in the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church outside of San Antonio. In April 2007 and October 1, 2017, its death toll was surpassed by that of the Virginia Tech and Las Vegas shooting respectively.

The Las Vegas Shooting

Las Vegas has also witnessed one of America’s deadliest mass shootings. The shooting occurred on October 1, 2017, on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

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Las Vegas police stand guard along the streets outside the Route 91 Harvest Country music festival grounds of the Route 91 Harvest on October 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

The gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, opened fire on the attendees of Route 91 Harvest music festival which left the gunman and 58 others dead, and over 500 people injured.

Virginia Tech Shooting

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Sixteen-year-old Jessica Hill takes part in a vigil for the victims of the mass killing at the southwestern university, Virginia Tech April 16, 2007, in Blacksburg, Virginia. More than 30 people were killed after a gunman opened fired first at a dormitory and later a classroom building. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

On April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui-Cho who was a senior at Virginia Tech University carried out two different attacks on the school’s campus in an interval of about 2 hours. He initially opened fire at West Ambler Johnston dormitory which housed 895 people, and then opened fire at Norris Hall which was half a mile away. On that day, 23-year-old Cho killed 33 people including himself and wounded several others.