Deadly shooting at Kroger near Louisville investigated as possible hate crime

Published: Friday, October 26, 2018 @ 7:17 PM

Gregory Bush (Courtesy/Louisville Dept. Corrections)
Gregory Bush (Courtesy/Louisville Dept. Corrections)

The shooting at the Kroger in Jeffersontown near Louisville that left two people dead is being investigated as a  possible hate crime, a federal official said Friday, the same day the grocery reopened to customers.

>> RELATED: 2 shot dead at Kroger; suspect in custody

Gregory Alan Bush, 51, remains in the Louisville Metro Jail on charges accusing him of killing Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vickie Lee Jones, 67, Wednesday afternoon. 

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Bush is white. Stallard and Jones are black. 

News media in Louisville have reported that a witness overheard Bush say, "whites don't kill whites" as he stood in the parking lot of the store on Taylorsville Road just after the shooting. 

Flowers, cards and candles now line the store's entrance as customers come and go, WLKY-TV reported. Signs saying, "Our Hearts are with our Community" have also been placed at the entrance and throughout Kroger. 

Police have not yet found any connection between the victims and Bush, the CBS affiliate reported, noting police also have said it's unclear why he targeted that particular store. 

PHOTO: Courtesy/WLKY-TV

Jeffersontown police laid out the timeline this way, WLKY-TV reported: 

2:39 p.m.: Bush, for unknown reasons, tried to get into First Baptist Church, near the Kroger. 

“He walked up to each door, kind of pulled on them very strongly. And after he pulled on the doors, he walked to each one of the three doors, and after being here probably five minutes or so he returned to his car and made a left turn onto Watterson Trail and headed toward Taylorsville Road,” church administrator Billy Williams said. 

At the time, there were a handful of people in the church. About an hour before, as many as 70 people had been there to attend Wednesday services. 

2:54 p.m.: The shooting was reported. Police said Stallard was shopping with his grandson when Bush walked into the store and shot him in the back of the head. Bush then shot Stallard again several times as he lay on the ground, police said. 

Bush put his gun away and walked out, police said, noting he pulled out his gun again in the parking lot and shot Jones several times. 

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, a man in the parking lot waiting for his wife, who was shopping inside, heard the gunfire and grabbed his revolver. That man, Ed Harrell, told the newspaper he asked the gunman what was going on. Harrell, according to the newspaper, said the gunman replied, "don't shoot me. I won't shoot you. Whites don't shoot whites." 

Investigators said Bush then exchanged gunfire with another citizen before getting away. Neither was hit by the gunfire, police said. 

2:56 p.m.: Officers were dispatched and arrived at the Kroger. 

2:58 p.m.: Officers took Bush into custody in a nearby bank parking lot. 

Jeffersontown's police chief said this week that the person who exchanged gunfire with Bush would not be charged. 

Harrell has been interviewed by the FBI, according to the newspaper. 

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Western District of Kentucky, federal investigators are working with law enforcement in Louisville to determine how Bush will be tried, nbcnews.com reported. 

Among the possible charges are "potential civil rights violations such as hate crimes," U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman told nbcnews.com. 

Bush remains in jail, with a cash bond set at $5 million on two counts of murder and 10 counts of felony wanton endangerment.