‘Pay­back Time’

A self-con­fessed woman-hater drove his truck into a cafe, killed 23 peo­ple and in­jured 20 more – be­fore snuff­ing out his own life. But why?

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Just off a busy street in the Texas town of Killeen was a pop­u­lar restau­rant called Luby’s Cafe­te­ria. At lunchtime on 16 October 1991, it was packed with a crowd of nearly 150 peo­ple who were en­joy­ing a bite to eat and a chat with loved ones.

But the jovial at­mos­phere wasn’t to last.

Out of nowhere, a large Ford Ranger pickup truck drove at speed into the glass-fronted diner.

But this wasn’t a freak road ac­ci­dent. The man be­hind the wheel was there to kill.

Af­ter send­ing bod­ies fly­ing across the venue, George Jo Hen­nard, 35, got out of his ve­hi­cle, bran­dish­ing two high-pow­ered guns – a Glock 17 pis­tol and a Ruger P89.

With­out the slight­est hint of mercy, he then worked his way through the crowd, fir­ing at his se­lected vic­tims at point-blank range. Af­ter wound­ing each of them, he me­thod­i­cally checked that they were dead be­fore mov­ing on to the next.

Blood­bath

As gun­shot af­ter gun­shot rang out, most of those in­side had lit­tle choice but to hide un­der ta­bles, clutch­ing each other des­per­ately and pray­ing.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, as Hen­nard stopped to reload his hand­guns, there were mo­ments of eerie si­lence.

But it wasn’t long un­til the pop, pop, pop of the gun filled ev­ery­one’s ears again, as Hen­nard ploughed on with his slay­ing.

A hand­ful of pet­ri­fied peo­ple scram­bled across the blood-drenched floor dodg­ing top­pled ta­bles, to the back of the cafe.

One of them man­aged to smash a win­dow with a chair and the hole was used as an es­cape route.

With his heart set on caus­ing as much de­struc­tion as pos­si­ble, Hen­nard mur­dered 23 in­no­cent peo­ple in a ter­ri­fy­ingly short space of time. An­other 20 lay in­jured, some crit­i­cally.

Some 10 min­utes af­ter the crash, po­lice ar­rived on the scene.

For a few min­utes, they ex­changed gun­fire with the killer. They wounded him four times, but he re­mained alive.

Then, as if it was all part of his mas­ter plan, Hen­nard made his way to the toilets in the cafe, plucked his last bul­let from his belt, loaded his gun one fi­nal time, and shot him­self in the head.

The slaugh­ter was fi­nally over – but the wider dev­as­ta­tion caused by it was just be­gin­ning for those who lived on.

The mass shoot­ing was the worst in US his­tory at the time,

With­out mercy, he fired at vic­tims at point-blank range

and the town of Killeen, with a pop­u­la­tion of 66,000, was left stunned.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors tried to piece to­gether what had mo­ti­vated a young man from a wealthy fam­ily to com­mit such a heinous crime.

Pop­u­lar child

An au­topsy showed no signs of drug use or ev­i­dence of brain tu­mours. So what could have been driv­ing his ac­tions?

The son of a doc­tor, the young George Jo Hen­nard was pop­u­lar and ad­mired at school.

‘Ev­ery­body thought he was cool. He was a good-look­ing

Hazel es­caped through a bro­ken win­dow

The pickup was driven into the busy diner

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