Last week’s fatal shootings of two African Americans at a Kentucky Kroger grocery store is being investigated as a hate crime, officials said.
The U.S. attorney, along with FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents, are reviewing the case, Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf told CNN on Monday.
“A crime against race is something that we will not accept,” Dieruf said. “If it’s a hate crime, it’s unacceptable to us that a crime would be committed against a race ― certainly against any nationality or race is heinous.”
Jeffersontown police Chief Sam Rogers said he believes the killings amount to a hate crime, according to spokeswoman Heather Hogue.
“If these aren’t definitions of hate crimes, I don’t know what a hate crime is,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday. The killer, if convicted, should be sentenced to death, McConnell added.
Gregory Alan Bush of Louisville, who is white, has been charged with murder and wanton endangerment in the shooting deaths of Maurice Stallard inside the store and Vickie Jones outside. It’s up to federal authorities whether to file hate crime charges.
The accused shooter reportedly told a white man outside the store that “whites don’t shoot whites” and moved on.
Bush, who police said had a history of mental illness and domestic violence, tried to enter a predominantly black church before opening fire at the grocery store, authorities said.
The killings took place days before an anti-Semitic gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, massacring 11 congregants. That suspect was charged with an array of offenses, including murder and hate crimes.