A Kentucky man pleaded guilty on Thursday to hate crime and firearm charges for murdering two Black customers at a Kroger grocery store in 2018. Gregory Alan Bush is already serving a state life sentence without parole in connection to the same attack.
Bush randomly shot a man in the back of the head using a Smith & Wisson, model 411, .40-caliber pistol, prosecutors said. He then shot the victim’s torso. The deceased man, identified as 69-year-old Maurice Stallard, had been shopping with his 12-year-old grandson.
The murderer then fatally shot a woman in the head and body outside at the parking lot, before getting into shootout with a third target, a man who survived the encounter and was legally armed with a handgun.
The shooting rampage took a different turn after Bush crossed paths with another man, who was also armed. There was a simple difference between this new individual, and the three victims, however. The fourth person was white. The other three were Black.
“Don’t shoot me [and] I won’t shoot you,” Bush said, according to authorities. “Whites don’t shoot whites.”
This October 24, 2018 incident was a racist attack. Bush did not know his victims. He only shot at them because they were Black.
“It’s complete sorrow in our community right now,” said Jessica Holman, who told The Louisville Courier-Journal in 2018 that Stallard was a family friend. She described him as warm and easy-going. “He’s the same age as my parents and his kids are my age, so we all experienced a rites of passage together growing up. Mr. Stallard looks just like my dad, and many times my nephew walks with my dad in that Kroger — my parents go to that store — it’s their store.”
The woman who died in the parking lot was Vickie Lee Jones, 67, a retired office administrator who had worked at the Veterans Affairs hospital.
Nephew Kevin Gunn described her as “one of the sweetest people you could know — and I’m not just saying that as her nephew. She had a warm and giving heart.”
Friends, family say final goodbyes to Kentucky Kroger shooting victims https://t.co/ZMQSZLzdav
— NBCBLK (@NBCBLK) November 3, 2018
Bush pleaded guilty but mentally ill in state court—a classification under Kentucky law that allows for treatment behind bars—and was sentenced in December. His federal sentencing is set for June 24. Whatever he gets is going to be redundant since he faces a possible punishment of life sentence without parole.
“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 for the Civil Rights Division 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.”
[Screengrab via WHAS]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]