A white man who allegedly gunned down two African-American people at a grocery store in Kentucky also tried to enter a predominantly Black church in the area minutes before the attack, according to police.
Vickie Lee Jones, 67, and Maurice Stallard, 69, were killed at Kroger Marketplace in the Louisville suburb of Jeffersontown on Wednesday. Suspect Gregory Bush, 51, was jailed with bail set at $5 million on two counts of murder and 10 counts of felony wanton endangerment.
On Friday afternoon, a federal prosecutor said the shooting is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Before Bush showed up at the grocery store, surveillance video shows him trying to enter the First Baptist Church in Jeffersontown, according to police Chief Sam Rogers. There were reportedly eight to 10 people inside the church at the time.
"There were 70 people here at our weekly meeting service just an hour before he came by," Billy Williams, the church administrator, told the New York Times. "I’m just thankful that all of our doors and security was in place." Both victims reportedly had relatives who had attended the church.
When he was unable to enter the church, Bush drove to the nearby store. He opened fire inside, killing Stallard. Then, he shot Jones in the parking lot, authorities said.
According to CNN, Stallard was at the grocery store with his 12-year-old grandson buying poster board for his school project.
Ed Harrell told the Kentucky Courier-Journal that he was waiting for his wife in the parking lot when he heard shots and grabbed his gun. As he saw Bush walk out, he asked what was happening, to which Bush replied, "Don't shoot me. I won't shoot you. Whites don't shoot whites." Harrell then hid behind a car and watched as Bush drove off. Minutes after, police arrested Bush.
The suspected gunman has a long history of using racial slurs, assault, domestic violence, and threats, WDRB reported. In 2001, an ex-girlfriend reportedly took out an emergency protective order against him because she "feared for her life." In 2009, he allegedly assaulted his parents. According to court records, he abused and threatened his ex-wife, as well as repeatedly called her the n-word. A domestic violence conviction in 2009 prevents Bush from legally owning weapons.
Maurice Stallard. Vickie Lee Jones. Both grandparents. Human beings. Gunned down and killed in Louisville, KY. The shooter: A man full of hate, bigotry & racism. Hate, bigotry & racism won’t go quietly. We can’t afford to elect more people who encourage & embody the three. pic.twitter.com/7ZoeANQWpf— Be A King (@BerniceKing) October 25, 2018