The white suspect accused of fatally shooting two black Kroger grocery customers in Kentucky on Wednesday allegedly told a bystander who confronted him, "Don't shoot me. I won't shoot you. Whites don't shoot whites," according to the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. The shooting happened right outside of Louisville.
The bystander, identified as Ed Harrell by the Courier-Journal, said he was in the parking lot when he heard gunshots, at which point he grabbed his own guns. When the suspect, 51-year-old Gregory Bush, approached him, Harrell said he asked what was happening and that’s when the suspect allegedly made the comment to him before driving off, only to be arrested shortly after.
Police said they are aware of reports that Bush made a racial comment to a bystander, but Jeffersontown Police Chief Sam Rogers said at a news conference Thursday that he "can't speculate on motive at this time" and that authorities are "pursuing all avenues of the investigation."
Rogers did say that surveillance video shows Bush tried unsuccessfully to enter the First Baptist church in Jeffersontown before he went to the Kroger store Wednesday.
The church is headed by a black pastor and has a large African-American membership.
In the store, Bush allegedly "pulled a pistol from his waistband and shot [a man] in the rear of the head and again multiple times as he lay on the floor," according to an arrest reported cited by the Courier-Journal. He later shot a woman in the parking lot, police say.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer identified the male victim as Maurice Stallard, the father of one of his staff assistants. Fischer said Thursday he's "sick and heartbroken" that two people were shot to death, and says the tragedy "hit close to home."
Stallard is the father of Kellie Watson, who serves in the mayor's office as his chief racial equity officer.
The female victim was identified as Vicki Lee Jones, described by her nephew Keith Gunn as a "warm and giving" person with two sons and multiple grandchildren. Gunn told the Courier Journal that Jones was retired from her job as an office administrator at the Veterans Affairs hospital.
Rogers said Bush apparently has a history of mental illness. He added that a SWAT team seized a cellphone and computers from the home in Jeffersontown where Bush was living with his parents. Court records show he punched and choked his elderly parents at their home several years ago. The parents told police in January 2009 that Bush punched his 78-year-old father in the face and grabbed his 74-year-old mother by the neck "and picked her up off the ground."
Bush repeatedly unplugged the phone so they couldn't call police and fled the home with a handgun. Police wrote in the report that Bush's parents are "terrified of (his) unpredictable behavior."
Bush is being held on a $5 million dollar bond in connection with this week’s shooting. He has been charged with two counts of murder.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
[Photo: Associated Press]
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