October 16, 1991 was National Bosses' Day at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. As lunchtime loomed, large groups and long lines filled the boisterous mess hall. Luby’s, a restaurant popular for its ability to accommodate heaps of hungry customers, housed 150 unsuspecting patrons that afternoon – 22 of which would never again leave its doors.
At around 12:40 p.m., George Hennard – a 35-year-old former Navy member and ex-Merchant Marine – drove his blue 1987 Ford Ranger through the front window of Luby’s. Before many of the customers could comprehend what had happened, Hennard opened fire with two 9-mm semiautomatic pistols.
As Hennard stomped through the restaurant, stepping over some to shoot others at point-blank range, it seemed he was scouting his victims randomly, by maniacal intuition even. It wasn’t until he shouted, “All women of Killeen and Belton are vipers!” that his misogynistic intent was revealed. Of the 23 victims, 14 were female. Hennard even called two women bitches before executing them mercilessly; his only perceptible emotion was obtuse rage. According to records and recollections, Hennard was not only sexist, but racist and homophobic as well. Still, a true motive has never materialized. “Nobody knows why it happened,” says Elaine Wood, a Luby’s massacre survivor. “And they are never going to have the answers.”
Several of the patrons present that day recalled brief lulls in Hennard’s rampage – moments wherein whispered prayers and the clink & chug of a pistol being reloaded were all that could be heard. It was in one of these moments that 28-year-old Tommy Vaughan threw himself through a window, creating an escape route for a third of the victims trapped inside the cafeteria.
Eventually, Hennard engaged in a shoot-out with two police officers who were able to wound him four times, none of which were fatal. In fact, it was Hennard who would administer the lethal blast. After making his way to the restrooms, George Hennard used the last bullet in his clip to shoot himself in the head.
From start to finish, the massacre lasted about ten minutes.