The Luby’s shooting was a mass shooting that took place on October 16, 1991, at a restaurant in Killeen, Texas. The perpetrator, George Hennard, crashed his pickup truck through the front of a Luby’s Cafeteria, and immediately shot and killed 23 people, and wounded 27 others before shooting and killing himself. It is the third-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, behind only the Virginia Tech and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. It remains the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. that did not occur at a school.
On October 16, 1991, 35-year-old George Jo Hennard, an unemployed merchant mariner who was described by others as angry and withdrawn, with a dislike of women and minorities, drove his blue 1987 Ford Ranger pickup truck through the plate-glass front window of a Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. Yelling, “All women of Killeen and Belton are vipers! This is what you’ve done to me and my family! This is what Bell County did to me…This is payback day!” Hennard opened fire on its patrons and staff with both a 9mm Glock 17 pistol and a 9mm Ruger P89 pistol. He stalked, shot, and killed 23 people, ten of them with single shots to the head, and wounded another 27 before committing suicide. Approximately 140 people were in the restaurant.
It was National Boss’s Day and the restaurant was crowded. At first, bystanders thought the crash was an accident, but the shooting started almost immediately. The first victim was veterinarian Michael Griffith. Another patron, Tommy Vaughn, threw himself through a rear window of the restaurant, sustaining injuries, but providing an escape route for himself and other customers.
Hennard reloaded at least three times before fleeing to the bathroom after a brief shootout with police officers. During the shootout, Hennard was wounded by the police. The incident ended when he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
– Possible motive
Numerous reports included accounts of Hennard’s hatred of women. An ex-roommate said, “He hated blacks, Hispanics, gays. He said women were snakes” and “always had derogatory remarks about women, especially after fights with his mother.”
Survivors said Hennard passed over men to shoot women. Fourteen of the 23 people killed were women, as were many of the wounded. He called two women “bitch” before shooting them.
Murdered in the shooting were:
|Al Gratia||71||Copperas Cove|
|Ursula Gratia||67||Copperas Cove|
|Debra Gray||33||Copperas Cove|
|Michael Griffith||48||Copperas Cove|
|Ruth Pujol||36||Copperas Cove|
|Su-Zann Rashott||30||Copperas Cove|
|John Romero, Jr.||33||Copperas Cove|
|Thomas Simmons||55||Copperas Cove|
|Lt. Col. Steven Dody||43||Copperas Cove/Fort Hood|
|Glen Arval Spivey||44||Harker Heights|
|Nancy Stansbury||44||Harker Heights|
|Venice Henehan||70||Metz, Missouri|
George Jo Hennard was born Georges Pierre Hennard on October 15, 1956 in Sayre, Pennsylvania, the son of a Swiss-born surgeon and a homemaker. He had two younger siblings, Alan and Desiree. His family later moved to New Mexico, where his father worked at the White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces. Upon graduating from Mayfield High School in Las Cruces in 1974, he enlisted in the U. S. Navy and served for two years until he was honorably discharged in 1976. He later worked as a merchant mariner, but was dismissed for drug use. Early in the investigation of the shooting the Killeen police chief said that Hennard “had an evident problem with women for some reason.” After his parents divorced in 1983, his father moved to Houston, and his mother moved to Henderson, Nevada. The Glock 17 and Ruger P89 9mm handguns used were purchased between February and March 1991 at a gun shop in Henderson.
Hennard stalked two sisters who lived in his neighborhood prior to the shooting. He sent them a letter, part of which said: “Please give me the satisfaction of some day laughing in the face of all those mostly white treacherous female vipers from those two towns [Killeen and Belton] who tried to destroy me and my family.” He also wrote that he was “truly flattered knowing I have two teenage groupie fans.”
An anti-crime bill was scheduled for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives the day after the incident. Some of the shooting victims had been constituents of Representative Chet Edwards, and in response he abandoned his opposition to a gun control provision that was part of the bill. The provision, which did not pass, would have banned some assault rifles and magazines like one used by Hennard.
The Texas State Rifle Association and others preferred that the state allow its citizens to carry concealed weapons. Democratic governor Ann Richards vetoed such bills, but in 1995 her Republican successor, George W. Bush, signed one into force.
The law had been campaigned for by Suzanna Hupp, who was present at the shooting where both of her parents were killed. She later testified that she would have liked to have had her gun during the shooting, but said, “it was a hundred feet away in my car.” (She had feared that if she was caught carrying her gun she might lose her chiropractor’s license.) She testified across the country in support of concealed handgun laws, and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1996.
A pink granite memorial stands behind the Killeen Community Center with the date of the event and the names of those killed.
The present site
The Luby’s reopened five months after the shooting, but closed permanently in September 2000. As of 2006, a Chinese-American buffet occupied the location.