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‘It Hits Me in the Gut': Luby's Massacre Survivor Reacts to Las Vegas Mass Shooting

The shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival that left 59 people dead, including the gunman, and more than 520 people injured is just the latest in a growing list of mass shootings.

But when our attention moves to the next crisis, the trauma continues for people touched by tragedy, including survivors of the 1991 Luby's massacre.

A 35-year-old man, unemployed and known to hate women and minorities, drove his pickup truck through a window of a Luby's restaurant in Killeen, Texas, on Oct. 16, 1991, then killed 23 people and wounded 27 others before killing himself.

"I don't think you hear much about it anymore, which in a way bothers me," said longtime Killeen resident Cameron Pohlman.

Pohlman lost two neighbors in the Luby's shooting.

"There were some very, very nice people from the community," Pohlman said. "I mean, outstanding people."

Among the people at the restaurant that day were Al and Ursula Gratia and their daughter, Suzanna Hupp.

"My dad was of that World War II era, that he was not going to just sit there," Hupp recalled. "So he ran at the man when he thought he had an opportunity."

The gunman killed him in his tracks.

"When the guy turned his back to me, I stood up. I grabbed my mother by the shirt collar, I said, 'Come on, come on, we gotta run, we gotta get out of here,' and my feet grew wings," Hupp said.

She made it out through a broken window.

"When I got out, I realized that my mom hadn't followed me out," Hupp said. "My parents had just had their 47th wedding anniversary a couple of weeks prior, and it didn't occur to me when I was trying to pull her on her feet that Mom was not going anywhere without Dad."

Both parents were gone – and there was nothing Hupp could do. She'd left her gun in the car, in accordance with 1991 state law.

"I was really angry at the time at my legislators, because I honestly felt like they had legislated me out of a right to protect myself and my family," Hupp said.

So she ran and was elected to the state legislature, helped change gun laws and then wrote about the experience in a book titled "From Luby's to the Legislature." Still, the mass shootings continue to happen.

"Every single time, it hits me in the gut," Hupp said.

She doesn't think there's any way to prevent the next tragedy, but says we can be prepared.

"My poor boys," Hupp said of her two sons. "Every time we walk into a theater or a restaurant or any place, I make them close their eyes and tell me where the exits are, how many exits are there?"

She counts on her faith that everything happens for a reason.

"I don't know what those reasons are, and if I ever make it to heaven I've got a list of questions for God," Hupp said. "But there's got to be a reason."

And she remembers that the good always outweighs the bad.

"That bad person has no clue what kind of good ripple effects come from their evil act," Hupp said.

Those ripples continue in Killeen, where 23 names are forever etched in a stone memorial, and in the hearts and minds of those left behind.

Former State Rep. Hupp feels strongly that more gun laws will not end mass killings and that someone bent on destruction will find a way. But she says she doesn't try to convince people anymore, and that the important thing is to look out for each other.

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