Gregory Bush, a white man who killed two Black shoppers at a Kentucky Kroger plead guilty to federal hate crime and firearm charges on Thursday, according to the DOJ.
The Oct. 2018 shooting claimed the lives of Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vickie Lee Jones, 67, when Bush opened fire at the grocery store located in Jeffersontown, Kentucky.
“Today’s guilty plea will ensure that a violent and disturbed man will never get another chance to target and terrorize the Black community,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan said in a statement.
“It won’t bring back two pillars of the Louisville community, whose tragic and senseless deaths we mourn, but we hope it sends the message that the Justice Department will work tirelessly to bring perpetrators of bias-motivated violence to justice.”
Federal prosecutors contend that Bush, 53, did not know his victims and opened fire because of their race. Bush is already serving a life sentence on state charges of murder, attempted murder and wanton endangerment. If he is found guilty in this case, he could be sentenced to another life sentence in prison.
Stallard, Bush’s first target, was shopping at the grocery store with his grandson when Bush walked up to him, striking him in the back of the head and torso multiple times with a Smith & Wesson pistol. Bush then walked out of the store and opened fire on Jones, striking her multiple times in the head and body.
Bush came in contact with a third person, a Black man, who questioned him about the shooting. The man opened fire on Bush in self-defense after he brandished his weapon while walking in his direction.
A fourth person who was white and legally armed told authorities that Bush did not fire upon him after he brandished his weapon, saying “whites don’t shoot whites.”
Defense lawyers attempted to argue that the murders were not racially motivated, but instead were the result of schizoaffective disorder, which Bush was diagnosed with. During the trial, Bush’s son Greg Bush II, who is half-Black, asked that his father be sentenced to life in prison due to his mental disorder.
Supporters of the victims claimed authorities wavered on finally charging Bush with a hate crime, pointing to the account of the white witness and the fact that prior to the shooting Bush stopped at a local historically Black church before opening fire in the store.
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