WASHINGTON, June 25 — A federal court on Thursday sentenced a white man to life in prison without possibility of parole for the racially motivated murders of two Black people, and the attempted murder of a third, at a Kentucky grocery store in 2018.
Gregory Bush, 53, of Louisville, had pleaded guilty-but-mentally-ill to state charges of murder, attempted murder and wanton endangerment, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the department’s Civil Rights Division deplored Bush’s “vicious, racially motivated attack on three Black individuals who were targeted because of the colour of their skin.”
“Racially motivated acts of violence must not be tolerated in our country today,” she said in the statement.
According to prosecutors, on October 24, 2018, Bush went to a Kroger grocery store in Jeffersontown, a suburb of Louisville, armed with a pistol.
He followed Maurice Stallard, a 69-year-old Black man he didn’t know who was shopping with his grandson, down an aisle then fatally shot him in the back of the head and several times in the torso.
He calmly left the store, then shot to death in the parking lot 67-year-old Vickie Lee Jones, a Black woman he didn’t know.
Bush exchanged gunfire with a Black man who confronted him with a legally owned handgun. He then told a white man, who was also armed with a legally owned firearm, “Don’t shoot me (and) I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”
Bush said during his federal plea hearing that he shot his victims “because of the victim’s race.”
“Life in prison is appropriate in light of the brutal acts committed by the defendant against our fellow citizens,” said acting US Attorney Michael Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky. — AFP