A white man who murdered two Black Kroger shoppers in 2018 was sentenced to two life in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
Gregory Bush, 53, pleaded guilty but mentally ill in Jefferson Circuit Court to two counts of attempted murder and wanton endangerment for the Oct. 24, 2018 shooting of Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vickie Lee Jones, 67, at a Kroger supermarket in Jeffersontown, Kentucky.
He originally plead not guilty to three federal hate crime charges and three federal gun charges, but later plead guilty to amended charges as part of a plea deal.
Bush was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder which means he will be placed under treatment and medication during his prison sentence. Bush also plead guilty to federal hate crime charges in February, but evaded execution because Attorney General William Barr agreed to not to seek the death penalty.
A series of delays from law enforcement officials to declare the shooting a hate crime was met with resistance from the local community who viewed the timeline of the case as evidence of premeditated thought.
Prior to the shooting Bush stopped at Black First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, a local, historically Black church before he visited Kroger and opened fire in the store. Police report that he walked up to Stallard and shot him in the back of the head, shooting him several times before he exited the store. In the parking lot, his next victim was Jones who was also shot multiple times. Stallard and Jones had no prior relationship with Bush before the shooting.
A white, male, witness who brandished his gun for protection during the shooting said Bush walked by him and said, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”
Shortly after the tragedy occurred, he was apprehended by police.
During the trial, Bush’s son Greg Bush II who is half-Black, advocated for his father’s life to be sparred due to his mental disorder.
The shooting occurred under a rise of white supremacist terrorism ticking upwards since the election of Donald Trump. Two days after the Kroger shooting, a Ceasar Sayoc was arrested in Florida over a plot to send mail bombs to a series of prominent Democrats. On Oct. 27, a third man named Robert Gregory Bowers was arrested for opening fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, where 11 people were killed.