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Kentucky Man Indicted On Murder Charges In Apparently Racially Motivated Grocery Store Attack
State officials are still weighing whether to pursue the death penalty for Gregory Bush, while federal prosecutors are looking into the possibility of hate crime charges in the case.
A man accused of gunning down two black customers at a Kentucky grocery store in an apparently racially motivated attack has been indicted on two counts of murder.
A Jefferson County grand jury indicted Gregory Bush on the charges Wednesday for the Oct. 24 attack, in which investigators say Bush targeted several black customers at a Kroger grocery store. Bush allegedly shot Maurice Stallard, 69, in the back of the head in front of Stallard's 12-year-old grandson, then shot him several more times. Bush then moved to the store's parking lot, where he allegedly killed Vicki Lee Jones, 67.
A witness in the parking lot, who had pulled his own gun and was crouched beside a car, told the Courier Journal after the shooting that the suspect told him "Don't shoot me. I won't shoot you. Whites don't shoot whites."
Bush, who is white, could also face federal hate crimes in the shootings, but a federal prosecutor is still reviewing the case, CBS News reports. Kentucky's doesn't allow for separate hate crime charges at the state level in homicide cases.
"Hate crime is a status and it only comes up at the time of sentencing," Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine told UPI. "The judge makes a determination by preponderance of the evidence -- 51 percent more likely than not that this individual acted out of hatred toward another individual because of their race, gender or any other type of immutable characteristic. So Kentucky's hate-crime statute really does not help us at all."
Just before the shooting, Bush allegedly tried to enter First Baptist Church, a historically black church, but found the doors locked and moved on to the grocery store.
On Sunday, while at the church, Jeffersontown Police Chief Sam Rogers said he believed the attack had been racially motivated.
"I won't stand here and pretend that none of us know what could have happened if that evil man had gotten in the doors of this church," he said, according to the Courier Journal.
Wine has not decided whether to pursue the death penalty in the case and said the determination will be made after his office is able to speak with victim's families.
"We need to allow them some time to grieve," he told the Courier Journal.
In addition to the two counts of murder, Bush was also indicted on one count of criminal attempted murder and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. Those charges stem from a gunfire exchange that occurred in the parking lot between Bush and bystander Dominic Rozier and the threat the gunfire had of striking Rozier's wife, Kiera Rozier, or Stallard's young grandson.
Police have said Rozier was just acting in self defense and is not expected to face charges for the exchange.
[Photo: Associated Press]