WASHINGTON — Prosecutors levied hate crimes charges against a shooter who killed two African-American shoppers at a Kroger grocery store in Jeffersontown, Ky., on Oct. 24.
The crime happened during the same week as mail bombs were received by various foes of President Trump and the worst mass murder of Jews in U.S. history unfolded at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
But authorities couldn’t say at the time whether Gregory A. Bush, 51, had targeted Maurice Stallard, 69, who was shot in the back of his head in the store, and Vickie Jones, 67, who was killed in the parking lot, because of their race.
Bush allegedly first tried to enter a predominantly African-American church but the church administrator was not at his post at the time to unlock the door. After shooting the two victims at the Kroger store, Bush allegedly told a civilian who was carrying a handgun, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”
On Thursday, Bush was indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crimes and firearms charges, including in the attempted murder of a third African-American man. The indictment alleges Bush committed the murders after substantial preparation.
He could face the death penalty on the charges, but the Justice Department has held off until a later date a decision on whether it will seek capital punishment or life in prison. Bush has a lengthy criminal record, including domestic violence against his parents.
He pleaded not guilty to the local charges of murder and attempted murder on Nov. 2.
“The tragic events of October 24, 2018, are a grim reminder of why the FBI prioritizes investigations of civil rights violations among the top of its criminal programs,” FBI Louisville Special Agent in Charge James Robert Brown, Jr., said in a statement. “Today’s indictment should be a reminder to those who are motivated by hate and are intent on committing violence; your hateful ideology will not have the last word. The FBI, and the Department of Justice, will be there, and you will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”