KILLEEN, Texas (AP) _ The Luby's Cafeteria where 24 people were killed in the nation's worst mass shooting will reopen early next year with overwhelming community support, a company official said Tuesday.

''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, president and chief executive officer of Luby's Cafeterias Inc.

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. It now is a satellite campus of Southwestern Community College and has a granite memorial to the shooting victims.

But some in Killeen have 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.

Killeen Mayor Major Blair announced plans for a memorial in a city park to honor the shooting victims.

Nearly all the 44 people who worked in the cafeteria want it to reopen and want to go back to work, Erben said. The workers are still on the payroll, although the cafeteria has been closed since the shooting.

George Hennard, 35, drove his pickup through a front window at the cafeteria on Oct. 16, then began a shooting rampage that lasted about 15 minutes before he killed himself.