LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The white man accused of opening fire in a Kentucky grocery store and parking lot, killing two black people, was indicted Wednesday on murder charges, but it’s too soon to determine if the death penalty will be sought, a prosecutor said.
The suspect, Gregory A. Bush, was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of murder, one count of criminal attempted murder and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment stemming from the attack at a Kroger store in suburban Louisville last week.
Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine told reporters Wednesday that he first wants to talk to the victims’ families before deciding whether to pursue the death penalty against Bush, 51.
“Quite frankly, it is too early to talk to them about that weighty decision,” Wine said.
The prosecutor said he’ll talk to the families “at the appropriate time,” after they’ve had time to grieve.
Bush’s indictment means his case will proceed to Jefferson County Circuit Court in Louisville.
Bush was seen on surveillance video trying to enter a historically black church minutes before the Kroger shootings but was not able to enter the church, police said. The police chief of the town outside Louisville where the shooting happened said he believes the killings were racially motivated.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Monday denounced the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and Kentucky grocery store shooting as hate crimes and said the death penalty should be applied.
Meanwhile, prosecutors on Wednesday identified the man they say first confronted Bush during the shooting as Dominic D. Rozier. The attempted murder charge against Bush stemmed from their exchange of gunfire, authorities said.
Rozier does not face any charges for firing at Bush, Wine said.
“There is no indication that he acted other than in self-protection for himself and for others,” Wine said of Rozier.
The wanton endangerment charges stemmed from the threats posed against Rozier’s wife and the 12-year-old grandson of one of the victims during the shooting, prosecutors said.
According to an arrest report, Bush walked into the Kroger, pulled a gun from his waist and shot a man in the back of the head, then kept shooting him multiple times. The report says Bush then reholstered his gun, walked outside and killed a woman in the parking lot. Each victim died of multiple gunshot wounds.
The victims were identified as Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vicki Lee Jones, 67. Bush, who is being held in a local jail, did not know either victim, Wine said.
Federal investigators are examining if there were any violations of federal law, including potential civil rights violations such as hate crimes, U.S. Attorney Russell M. Coleman in Louisville said.
Coleman said in a statement Wednesday that the investigation will be “thorough and prompt, aimed at collecting the evidence necessary to meet the standards required for charging under the federal hate crimes and related laws.”