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Luby's Cafeteria Massacre - Killen, TX - 1991

By: David Freeman

On October 16, 1991, George Jo Hennard drove his 1987 Ford Ranger pickup truck through the front window of a Luby's Cafeteria at 1705 East Central Texas Expressway in Killeen, yelled "This is what Bell County has done to me!", then opened fire on the restaurant's patrons and staff with a Glock 17 pistol and later a Ruger P89. He stalked, shot, and killed 23 people while wounding another 20 before committing suicide. About 80 people were in the restaurant at the time.

The first victim was local veterinarian Dr. Michael Griffith, who ran up to the driver's side of the pickup truck to offer assistance after the truck came through the window. During the shooting, Hennard approached Suzanna Gratia Hupp and her parents. Hupp had actually brought a handgun to the Luby's Cafeteria that day but left it in her vehicle because laws in force at the time forbade citizens from carrying firearms. According to her later testimony in favor of Missouri's HB-1720 bill and in general, after she realized that her firearm was not in her purse but "a hundred feet away in [her] car," her father charged at Hennard in an attempt to subdue him but was gunned down; a short time later, Hupp's mother was also shot and killed. Hupp later expressed regret for abiding by the law in question by leaving her firearm in her car rather than keeping it on her person. One patron, Tommy Vaughn, threw himself through a plate-glass window to allow others to escape. Hennard allowed a mother and her four-year-old child to leave. He reloaded several times and still had ammunition remaining when he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head after being cornered and wounded by police.

Reacting to the massacre, in 1995 the Texas Legislature passed a shall-issue gun law, which requires that all qualifying applicants be issued a Concealed Handgun License (Texas's required permit to carry concealed weapons), removing the personal discretion of the issuing authority to deny such licenses. The law had been campaigned for by Suzanna Hupp, who was present at the Luby's massacre where both of her parents were shot and killed. Hupp later expressed sadness for abiding by the law in question by leaving her firearm in her car rather than keeping it on her person.

Hupp testified across the country in support of concealed-handgun laws, and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1996. The law was signed by then-Governor George W. Bush and became part of a broad movement to allow U.S. citizens to carry concealed firearms. Those that were killed and wounded were not the only causalities. Survivors and several of the numerous law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting have continued to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder to this day.
 

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