Kentucky shooting: White suspect charged with hate crimes over killing of two black grandparents

Police say suspect initially tried to enter black church before 'hate-fuelled' shootings

Niraj Chokshi
Friday 16 November 2018 12:48 GMT
Gregory Bush faces life in prison without parole and authorities are yet to decide whether they will pursue the death penalty
Gregory Bush faces life in prison without parole and authorities are yet to decide whether they will pursue the death penalty (AP)

A federal grand jury on Thursday handed down hate crime charges against a white man who the authorities say shot and killed two black grandparents at a Kroger supermarket in Kentucky last month.

“There is no place, no place, for hate-fuelled violence in this community and no place in this commonwealth,” Russell M Coleman, the US attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

The six-count indictment against the suspect, Gregory Bush, 51, of Louisville, included two counts of shooting or killing a victim based on race or colour and one count of attempting to shoot or kill a victim based on race or colour. The remaining charges were for firearm-related offences. The grand jury in Louisville returned the indictment mid-afternoon.

“Cutting through the legal jargon, we have three federal hate crimes, three what you would refer to as federal firearms offences or ‘gun crimes,'” Mr Coleman said.

If convicted, Bush faces life in prison without parole. The authorities have not decided whether to pursue the death penalty.

Bush had already been charged by a state prosecutor with two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment and could face the death penalty over those murder charges.

The shooting occurred 24 October in Jeffersontown, a suburb of Louisville, where Bush initially tried to enter a predominantly black church, according to the police.

Failing that, he proceeded to the Kroger, where witnesses said he fatally shot Maurice E Stallard, 69. Bush then went outside to the parking lot, where he shot and killed Vickie Lee Jones, 67. A bystander told the police that during the attack, Bush had said, “Whites don’t kill whites.”

Mr Stallard was at the Kroger with his 12-year-old grandson to buy materials for a school project, according to police. He served in the Air Force and had married his high school sweetheart, Charlotte, a long-time friend, Jesse Kinzer, told The New York Times last month.

Ms Jones had retired from a Veterans Administration hospital and was caring for her ailing mother, according to her nephew Kevin Gunn.

The New York Times

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