A Kentucky man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for gunning down two Black people in cold blood at a grocery store, solely because of their race.
The gunman also shot and attempted to murder a third Black man during the attack, according to federal prosecutors.
During his federal plea hearing, Gregory A. Bush, 53, admitted to the crimes. Bush had no prior relationship with any of the victims and chose to shoot them because of their race, prosecutors noted.
On Oct. 24, 2018, Bush drove to the Jeffersontown, Kentucky, Kroger armed with a Smith & Wesson, model 411, .40-caliber pistol. Bush followed a Black man in the store, who was shopping with his grandson, for the length of an aisle.
Bush took the gun from his waistband and shot the victim in the back of the head. He then shot the victim several more times in the torso, killing him in cold blood in front of his grandson.
Bush reholstered his gun and calmly walked out of the store, prosecutors noted.
In the parking lot, Bush walked up to a Black woman and shot her several times in the head and body, killing her.
Seconds later, Bush encountered a Black man who was in lawful possession of a handgun. He asked Bush what was going on. Without responding, Bush began walking toward him with his gun drawn.
The third victim fired at Bush, who returned fire. After about a minute, Bush stopped shooting and walked away, according to prosecutors.
Next, Bush encountered a white man, who was legally armed with a firearm. Bush told him, “Don’t shoot me [and] I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”
Bush previously pleaded guilty but mentally ill to state charges for murder, attempted murder and wanton endangerment arising out of the shooting. He was sentenced to a life term in state prison.
“Life in prison is appropriate in light of the brutal acts committed by the defendant against our fellow citizens,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael A. Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky. “The initial law enforcement response and investigation, collaboration by federal and state prosecutors, and the sentence imposed serve notice to all that race-based violence will be met with swift and exacting justice.”
“Today, Mr. Bush was held responsible for his vile conduct,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Brown of the FBI Louisville Field Office. “We are a diverse city and country, bound together by shared values and beliefs. We are also a nation of laws. When those like Mr. Bush betray our shared values and violate our laws, the FBI and its Department of Justice partners will be ready to hold them accountable. This is just one example of how hate and violence will not be tolerated and have no place in our community.”
“This was a heinous crime where innocent victims were gunned down for no other reason than the color of their skin,” said Special Agent in Charge R. Shawn Morrow of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Louisville Division. “The ATF Louisville Division worked tirelessly alongside our law enforcement partners to seek justice for the victims, their families and the community at large impacted by this hate crime. Today’s life sentence in prison demonstrates law enforcement’s stance against race-based violence and our commitment to justice.”