|“||This is what Bell County's done to me! This is payback day!||”|
— Hennard before opening fire
George Pierre Hennard was a spree killer who killed twenty-three people and wounded twenty others at Luby's Cafeteria.
His is currently the fourth-deadliest massacre perpetrated by a single gunman in U.S. history, behind the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre committed by Omar Mateen, the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre committed by Seung-Hui Cho, and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting committed by Adam Lanza.
HistoryBorn in Sayre, Pennsylvania, Hennard's father Georges was an expert in orthopedics, and as a result, the family constantly moved around the country since he worked at various Army hospitals. Hennard's parents allegedly didn't care about him, and he was quiet and antisocial throughout high school. After graduating high school in 1974, Hennard joined the Navy, where he experienced many troubles, among them an arrest for marijuana possession and a suspension after having a racial argument with a shipmate. He soon went to a substance-abuse program in Houston after being suspended again for marijuana possession aboard a cargo ship, and then drifted from job to job, having numerous jobs in different U.S. states. Hennard eventually became particularly prejudiced against women, once sending two sisters living a couple of blocks away from him a five-page letter voicing his hatred for them. A week-and-a-half prior to the massacre at Luby's Cafeteria, Hennard resigned from his current job at a cement company at Copperas Cove. According to TruTV, Hennard had watched a documentary about James Huberty, a disgruntled man who committed a massacre at a San Ysidro, California McDonald's restaurant on July 18, 1984, killing 21 people. He also watched The Fisher King, a 1991 movie in which a radio DJ inspires a man into killing several people at a restaurant in a shooting. The two movies apparently inspired him to commit the Luby's massacre.
On October 16, 1991, after eating breakfast at a convenience store he commonly visited, Hennard then drove to a Luby's Cafeteria that was located seventeen miles away in Killeen, Texas, and intentionally crashed his pickup truck into the cafeteria, hitting an elderly man in the process. People gathered around the truck, believing the crash to be an accident, and Hennard seized the opportunity to shoot at those nearest with two pistols he legally purchased. He stepped out of his truck and yelled, "This is what Bell County has done to me!" He then proceeded to continuously shoot at people hiding under the tables at point-blank range, injuring and/or killing them. Several witnesses have reported seeing Hennard bitterly spit out misogynistic statements at some of his female victims before shooting them; they also reported he was smirking the entire time. It would later be revealed that most of Hennard's chosen victims were females. After several minutes of shooting and killing, Hennard halted his rampage for an unknown reason and instead began walking around the restaurant. 28-year-old mechanic Tommy Vaughan seized this opportunity to hurl himself through a glass window, shattering it completely and allowing about a third of everyone still alive to escape, just as two police officers arrived, responding to the scene. Hennard angrily engaged in a shootout with the officers and suffered from four gunshot wounds. Taking cover in the cafeteria's restrooms, with only one bullet left, Hennard then committed suicide, ending his fifteen-minute-long rampage. Approximately 80 people had been inside the building at the time of the shooting.
Hennard attracted a crowd by crashing his 1987 Ford Ranger pickup truck into the cafeteria, to which he would then start shooting with two semiautomatic pistols, one a Ruger P89, the other a Glock 17. Most of his victims were shot at point-blank range. He would choose which people he would kill before shooting them; most of those chosen by him were women due to his misogynistic personality.
All of the following were attacked in the 1991 Luby's Cafeteria massacre.
Note: The only source listing the victims' names, Wikipedia, has alphabetized the list, making it unclear as to who died after the other. The only exception is Dr. Michael Griffith, who was confirmed to be the first one shot and killed by Hennard.
- Patricia Carney, 57
- Jimmie Caruthers, 48
- Kriemhild Davis, 62
- Lieutenant Colonel Steven Dody, 43
- Al Gratia, 71 (shot in the chest)
- Ursula Gratia, 67 (shot in the head)
- Debra Gray, 33
- Dr. Michael Griffith, 48 (confirmed to be the first fatality; struck by a vehicle, then shot)
- Venice Henehan, 70
- Clodine Humphrey, 63
- Sylvia King, 30
- Zona Lynn, 45
- Dr. Connie Peterson, 43
- Ruth Pujol, 36
- Suzann Rashott, 30
- John Romero, Jr., 33
- Thomas Simmons, 55
- Glen Spivey, 44
- Nancy Stansbury, 44
- Olgica Taylor, 45
- James Welsh, 75
- Lula Welsh, 64
- Iva Williams, 64
- Louie Caraballo (struck by a vehicle, then shot in the back)
- Judy Ernst (shot in the arm)
- Steve Ernst, 49 (shot in the stomach)
- JoAnn Heckathorn, 50 (shot in the hip)
- Kirby Lack (shot in the back)
- Bernadette Leasure (shot in the buttocks)
- Shannon McMullen (shot in the leg)
- Hilda Meihls
- Barbara Nite (shot in the foot)
- Charlene Smith (shot in the foot)
- John Swift (shot in the foot)
- Nine other unnamed people
- Note: Several other people suffered injuries not directly related to Hennard, mostly by flying glass or fleeing accidents.
- The Luby's massacre wouldn't be the last incident of mass murder to occur in Killeen.
- On November 5, 2009, 39-year-old U.S. Army Major and psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood, the most populous U.S. military installation in the world, which was located just outside Killeen. Thirteen people (twelve soldiers and one civilian) were killed and 32 others were wounded with an FN Five-seven semiautomatic pistol before Hasan was shot and paralyzed by civilian police Sergeant Mark Todd. Though Hasan had contact with radical Islamist and Yemeni imam Anwar al-Aulaqi, the shooting hasn't been classified as an act of terrorism and is instead being considered a workplace shooting.
- On April 2, 2014, 34-year-old U.S. Army Specialist Ivan Lopez committed a second shooting spree at Fort Hood, killing three soldiers and injuring 16 others with a Smith & Wesson M&P semiautomatic pistol. He then committed suicide upon being confronted by a female military police officer. The shooting was apparently sparked after Lopez had an altercation with several other soldiers (some of whom were those shot) directly prior to it.
On Criminal Minds
Hennard was mentioned in the Season Five episode Public Enemy along with James Huberty (who was stated by Reid to be Hennard's inspiration for the massacre) as examples of mass murderers (though in the episode, they are erroneously referred to as spree killers).