|Luby's Cafeteria Shooting|
Location of Killeen, Texas
|Location||Killeen, Texas, U.S.|
|Date||October 16, 1991 |
12:39 p.m.–12:51 p.m.
|Target||Patrons at Luby's|
|Mass shooting, mass murder, murder-suicide, shootout|
|Deaths||24 (including the perpetrator)|
|27 (19 by gunfire)|
The Luby's shooting, also known as the Luby's massacre, was a mass shooting that took place on October 16, 1991, at a Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. The perpetrator, George Hennard, drove his Ford Ranger pickup truck through the front window of the restaurant. He quickly shot and killed 23 people, and wounded 27 others. He had a brief shootout with police, refused their orders to surrender, and fatally shot himself.
Ranked at the time as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, its death toll was surpassed by that of the Virginia Tech shooting in April 2007. As of 2018, this incident ranked as the sixth-deadliest shooting in the U.S. by a single shooter.
On October 16, 1991, 35-year-old George Hennard, an unemployed man who had been in the Merchant Marine, drove a Ford Ranger pickup truck through the plate-glass front window of a Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. Hennard yelled, "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!" He then opened fire on the patrons and staff with both a 9mm Glock 17 pistol and a 9mm Ruger P89 pistol. Hennard stalked, shot, and killed 23 people, ten of them with single shots to the head, and wounded another 27.
October 16 was National Boss's Day, and the cafeteria was unusually crowded with around 150 people. At first, bystanders thought the crash was an accident, but Hennard started shooting patrons almost immediately. The first victim was veterinarian Michael Griffith. Another patron, Tommy Vaughn, threw himself through a rear window, sustaining injuries, but he created an escape route for himself and others. Hennard reloaded at least three times before police arrived and he engaged in a brief shootout with them. Wounded, he retreated to an area between the two bathrooms (patrons were hiding in these bathrooms and had blocked their doors). The police repeatedly told Hennard to surrender, but he refused, saying he was going to kill more people. Hennard was shot a further two times by police, in the abdomen. Having no more bullets for the one gun he now held and with worsening injuries, minutes later Hennard committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Hennard was described as reclusive and belligerent, with an explosive temper. He had been pushed out of the Merchant Marine because of possession of marijuana. Numerous reports included accounts of Hennard's expressed hatred of women. An ex-roommate of his said, "He hated blacks, Hispanics, gays. He said women were snakes and always had derogatory remarks about them, especially after fights with his mother." Survivors from the cafeteria said Hennard had passed over men to shoot women. 14 of the 23 people killed were women, as were many of the wounded. He called two of them a "bitch" before shooting them.
Murdered in the shooting were:
|Steven Dody||43||Copperas Cove/Fort Hood|
|Alphonse "Al" Gratia||71||Copperas Cove|
|Ursula Gratia||67||Copperas Cove|
|Debra Gray||33||Copperas Cove|
|Michael Griffith||48||Copperas Cove|
|Venice Henehan||70||Metz, Missouri|
|Ruth Pujol||55||Copperas Cove|
|Su-Zann Rashott||36||Copperas Cove|
|John Romero, Jr.||33||Copperas Cove|
|Thomas Simmons||55||Copperas Cove|
|Glen Arval Spivey||55||Harker Heights|
|Nancy Stansbury||44||Harker Heights|
|Iva Juanita Williams||64||Temple|
Hennard in 1983
George Pierre Hennard
October 15, 1956
|Died||October 16, 1991 (aged 35)|
|Cause of death||Murder–suicide|
|Education||Mayfield High School|
George Pierre Hennard was born on October 15, 1956 in Sayre, Pennsylvania, the son of a Swiss-born surgeon and a homemaker. He had two younger siblings, brother Alan and sister Desiree. Hennard's family later moved to New Mexico, where his father worked at the White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces. After graduating from Mayfield High School in 1974, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served for three years, until he was honorably discharged. Hennard later worked as a merchant mariner, but was dismissed for drug use.
Early in the investigation of the massacre, 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 pistols which Hennard 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 massacre. 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 massacre. Some of the Hennard victims had been constituents of Rep. 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 weapons 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 massacre; both of her parents were killed by Hennard. She later testified that she would have liked to have had her gun, but said, "It was a hundred feet away in my car." (She had feared that if she was caught carrying it she might lose her chiropractor's license). Hupp 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.
- Gun violence in the United States
- List of rampage killers (Americas)
- Mass shootings in the United States
- 2009 Fort Hood shooting and 2014 Fort Hood shooting, two other mass shootings in Killeen, Texas
- 2011 IHOP shooting, another massacre at a popular restaurant
- Brown's Chicken massacre, another massacre at a popular restaurant
- Munich shooting, another massacre at a popular restaurant
- San Ysidro McDonald's massacre, the deadliest massacre shooting in the United States prior to the Luby's shooting.
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