KILLEEN, Texas — The Luby’s in Killeen permanently closed in 2000, nearly 10 years after 24 people were killed in what was, at the time, the nation’s worst mass shooting.
But the building lives on as a Chinese buffet.
On Oct. 16, 1991, George Hennard, 35, drove his pickup through a front window at the cafeteria, then began a shooting rampage that lasted about 15 minutes before he killed himself.
The restaurant reopened five months after the massacre with overwhelming community support.
″Again and again, we have heard that Luby’s is just more than a dining place in Killeen. It has been a gathering place - for meetings, for social occasions, for business people, citizens and families,″ said Ralph ″Pete″ Erben, then president and chief executive officer of Luby’s Cafeterias Inc., in 1991.
A McDonald’s restaurant where 21 people were killed by a gunman in San Ysidro, Calif., in 1984 was razed and given to the city.
But some in Killeen said closing the cafeteria ″would allow the gunman a degree of victory, a control over this community that he should not have,″ Erben said.
He said a few people expressed concern about reopening the cafeteria, but most have said they support the idea.
Nearly all 44 of the people who worked in the cafeteria wanted it to reopen and wanted to go back to work, Erben said.
When the Luby’s location closed for good on Sept. 9. 2000, many people were sad to see it go.