Jeffersontown Kroger shooting

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Jeffersontown Kroger shooting
LocationA Kroger store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky
DateOctober 24, 2018
2:30 pm (Eastern)
Attack type
Shooting
Deaths2
VictimsMaurice E. Stallard
Vickie Lee Jones
Suspected perpetrator
Gregory A. Bush
ChargesMurder (two counts).
Wanton endangerment (ten counts).
Shooting or killing a victim based on race or color (two counts).
Attempting to shoot or kill a victim based on race or color.
Use of a firearm in the commission of a felony (three counts).

On October 24, 2018, Maurice E. Stallard, aged 69, and Vickie Lee Jones, aged 67, both African Americans, were killed while shopping at a Kroger store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. Gregory A. Bush, age 51, a white man, was initially charged in state court with two counts of murder and ten counts of wanton endangerment, and held on $5 million bail.[1] On November 15, 2018, a federal grand jury in the Western District of Kentucky indicted Bush on six counts: three hate crime charges and three firearms offenses.[2]

Incident[edit]

According to Jeffersontown police, Bush had earlier tried to enter the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, a predominantly black church, during a service but was unable to because the doors were locked. Police and church leaders said surveillance video recorded his attempt.[1][3]

Between 10 to 15 minutes later, police say Bush entered the Kroger, shot Stallard inside, then Jones in the parking lot. He then exchanged gunfire with a bystander, who saw him shoot Jones.[4] Another man said Bush told him, "Don't shoot me. I won't shoot you. Whites don't shoot whites" and then tried to flee.[5] He was caught by police, who arrived four minutes after they were called.[1]

Perpetrator[edit]

Jeffersontown's chief of police said Bush had a history of mental illness and domestic violence, including an incident where he called his ex-wife (who is black) by a racial epithet. The Louisville police chief said the shooting was motivated by racism.[6] The New York Times quoted a Facebook page appearing to belong to Bush: “My paranoid-schizophrenia finally stopped me from working and now am on mental disability. I’m lucky I made it this far with all the trouble I’ve caused myself when I get off my medicine.”[1] Tommy Juanso, an attorney who was a former friend of Gregory A. Bush had said that his rheotric became increasingly vitriolic during the 2016 presidential campaign and the political polarization at that time. Juanso was also biracial (black/white) and thus Bush mocked him and called him "The Big O" (a reference to the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama), he also was obssessed with the idea of black-on-black crime on his social media accounts such as Twitter and made racial insults.[7]

Legal[edit]

Shortly after his arrest, Bush was charged by Kentucky state prosecutors with two counts of murder and ten counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. On October 31, a Jefferson County grand jury indicted Bush on two counts of murder, one count of criminal attempted murder [the gunfight with the bystander who attempted to subdue him] and two counts of wanton endangerment.[8]

U.S Attorney Russell Coleman, released a statement on October 31, that the US Attorney's Office and the FBI were "collecting the evidence necessary" to potentially charge Bush with possible violations of federal law "which includes potential civil rights violations such as hate crimes."[9] On November 15, 2018, a grand jury in the Western District of Kentucky indicted Bush for three hate crime charges—two counts of shooting or killing a victim based on race or color, and one count of attempting to shoot or kill a victim based on race or color—and three firearms offenses.[2]

Aftermath[edit]

Shortly after the incident, Kentucky State Representatives James Nemes and Jerry Miller, pre-filed a bill as criminal homicide and fetal homicide were not included in the state's hate-crime law. The bill calls for a person to be charged with a hate crime, in addition to the homicide charge, if the crime was found to be motivated by "race, color, religion, sexual orientation or national origin."[10]

A large number of politicians were hesitant to call the incident a hate crime before investigations into the incident were finished. However, some like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement through a spokeswoman that stated, "If these aren't definitions of hate crimes, I don't know what a hate crime is." and called for the death penalty if Bush is found guilty.[11] Many activist groups such as Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and Showing Up for Racial Justice met with local politicians to petition that Bush face a hate crime charge, and expressed concern that he could potentially escape justice by using mental illness as a defense. As one member told officials, "Mental illness does not prompt you to wake up wanting to kill black people. Mental illness does not discriminate as this man did."[12] According to CNN, the event was one of three hate-motivated incidents that took place in the United States the same week, along with the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and a series of mail bombing attempts.[13]

An interfaith moment of silence was declared by Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer, for October 31 in remembrance of those killed at the Kroger and the Pittsburgh synagogue.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Zraick, Karen, and Stevens, Matt. Kroger Shooting Suspect Tried to Enter Black Church Before Killing 2, Police Say, The New York Times, October 25, 2018. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Kroger Shooting Suspect Is Charged With Hate Crimes in Killings of 2 Black People". Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  3. ^ DiGiacomo, Janet. "Kroger shooting leaves 2 people dead in Kentucky", CNN, October 26, 2018. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  4. ^ Kenney, Tanasia (2018-11-03). "Man Who Confronted Suspect In Kroger Shooting Details Harrowing Incident, Says He Was Trying to Protect 'Me and My Wife'". Atlanta Black Star. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  5. ^ Bailey, Phillip (October 31, 2018). "'Whites don't shoot whites': What one man says Kroger shooter told him". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  6. ^ Novelly, Thomas. Police chief calls Kroger shooting in Louisville a hate crime, USA Today, from Louisville Courier Journal, October 29, 2018. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  7. ^ Novelly, Thomas. Kroger shooting: FBI questions Gregory Bush's Twitter friend, Louisville Courier-Journal, November 1, 2018, Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  8. ^ Glowicki, Mathew (October 31, 2018). "Kroger shooting suspect Gregory Bush indicted on murder charges". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  9. ^ Ross, Allison (October 31, 2018). "Feds confirm they're investigating the Kroger shooting as hate crime". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  10. ^ Novelly, Thomas (October 31, 2018). "After Kroger shooting, state 'needs stricter punishments' for hate crimes, lawmakers say". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  11. ^ Journal, Thomas Novelly Louisville Courier. "Mitch McConnell backs death penalty in Louisville Kroger shooting". Kentucky New Era. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  12. ^ O'Neil, Erin (October 28, 2018). "Activists ask for hate crime charge in Kroger shooting". WAVE3 News. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  13. ^ Sanchez, Ray, and Gray, Melissa. "72 hours in America: Three hate-filled crimes. Three hate-filled suspects." CNN, October 29, 2018. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  14. ^ "Mayor calls for Louisville to hold 'Moment of Unity' on Wednesday". WDRB. October 30, 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-05.