Thursday, October 17, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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`Tell Everybody Bell County Was Bad' -- Gunman Calmly Stalked Diners

Dallas Morning News: Times News Services

KILLEEN, Texas - Anica McNeill was having lunch with her mother and 4-year-old daughter when a blue pickup smashed through the window at Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen.

"We were sitting there and the window shattered," she said. "He drove right up to the table."

The driver came out shooting. It was 12:41 p.m., and 23 people - including the gunman - were about to die.

One of his first victims was McNeill's mother, Olgica Taylor. The curly-haired gunman in dark sunglasses shot her once, turned away momentarily, then shot her again.

He pointed his 17-round Glock 9mm Auto Pistol at McNeill, then stopped.

"You get that baby and get out of here," McNeill quoted the gunman. "Run outside and tell everybody Bell County was bad."

She fled with the child. Her mother did not survive.

Witnesses who did survive the massacre yesterday describe a horrible and bizarre scene, as the gunman - identified by police as George Hennard, 35 - systematically slaughtered diners before turning his semiautomatic pistol on himself.

Witnesses said he fired as many as 100 rounds inside the cafeteria, reloading repeatedly. Police Chief F.L. Giacomozzi said "he wasn't out of bullets when the officers got there."

The chief, in a news conference today, said Hennard fired two 9mm semiautomatic pistols, the Glock 17 and a Ruger P89. The gunman spent six magazines that, if full, would contain about 100 rounds. Hennard shot himself in the head with his last bullet after being hit several times by officers, Giacomozzi said.

When the firing began, Eddie Sanchez, 31, a construction worker, was dropping off his girlfriend, Luby's employee Angela Wilson. He saw the truck crash through a window and watched in horror as the shooting began.

"He walked around and shot one man, then he shot another, then he turned around and `pop!' shot at me," Sanchez said.

Sanchez said he and his girlfriend ran through the restaurant to a telephone. He started to call police, then noticed the gunman was staring at him as he reloaded his pistol.

"He was cold-faced," Sanchez said of the gunman. "He didn't have no expression. He wasn't smiling. He wasn't mad. He was just cold."

Sanchez said the gunman stood among the bleeding bodies, looking around as he slowly reloaded. Before Sanchez and his girlfriend fled, they heard the gunman say to no one in particular, "This is what Belton did to me. Is it worth it? Is it worth it?"

Belton, Texas, population 12,500, is the Bell County seat and about 20 miles east of Killeen.

Lee Whitney, 41, repair-department manager for Contel Telephone Co., said he and his wife, Brenda, 33, were at the rear of the cafeteria's serving line when the truck came through the window.

When the shooting started, Whitney said, he threw his wife to the floor and crouched behind a bench. As the assailant moved through the room, Whitney said, the man would fire his weapon, then ask: "Was it all worth it, people?" He would randomly fire at other victims, Whitney said.

The gunman neared the spot where the Whitneys were hiding, reached over them and shot a nearby woman in the head. His foot brushed against Brenda Whitney as he fired. When the man walked to the other end of the cafeteria, the Whitneys and about 10 others ran out a side door.

For Sam Wink, a Killeen resident who was at Luby's to celebrate Bosses' Day, there was a momentary urge to rush the gunman after he emptied his weapon. "I started to get up," Wink said, "and then I saw he had tons of ammo and he fired another clip into his pistol and started shooting again. . . .

"(He) looked right at me and pointed the pistol and I thought, `Well, this is it.' I thought I had bought the farm. . . . A lady next to me got up and started to run, and he turned and fired at her.

"I moved as fast as I could."

A Luby's employee, Vickie Large, said she was handling the breads and pies on the serving line when the truck burst through the window. "I didn't know what to do but stare at him for just a minute, then I turned around and I ran," said Large, who is pregnant and due in April.

Many people huddled under the furniture. "I feel sorry for the people who fell on the floor and tried to hide under tables," said David Alejandro, 22, "I think they were the ones who got it."

That was confirmed by one police officer who said that numerous victims were trapped along a wall and under tables, trying to hide. Investigators said they didn't know how many people were in the restaurant, but employees described it as a normal - and busy - lunchtime crowd.

Police arrived within several minutes after the first shots were fired, Chief Giacomozzi said today. Several officers attending a training session at a nearby hotel heard gunfire and rushed to Luby's. They exchanged gunfire with the gunman, apparently wounding him. The gunman reportedly dropped to the floor, rolled onto his back, put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

Luby's Cafeterias Inc. operates 151 restaurants in nine states.

-- Information from Los Angeles Times is included in this report.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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