LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Thursday marks one year since a gunman went on a rampage at Kroger in Jeffersontown killing two black grandparents in what prosecutors charged as a hate crime.
Police say Gregory Bush shot Maurice Stallard in front of his grandson inside the store located at 9080 Taylorsville Rd. The 69-year-old Army veteran had only gone to Kroger to pick up poster board for the 12-year-old child.
In the parking lot, officers said Bush gunned down 67-year-old Vickie Lee Jones.
"I seen the victim laying down on the ground already, so I was kind of like very nervous and scary," D Spa and Nails owner Kelly Pham remembers about the day of the shooting. "We don't know what we're going to do."
The staff from her salon saw Bush after the shooting walking in the parking lot. They pulled out a cellphone and started gathering video of the aftermath.
"This is evidence for whoever needs it," Pham said. "I can't believe its been a year. It's so sad. I feel so sad for the victims and their families."
Pham didn't realize as she collected the footage of Bush it would turn out that she knew one of the victims who'd been shot, Maurice Stallard.
"We went to church together sometimes at St. Bartholomew," Pham said. "I've seen him there."
Prosecutors say Bush shot both Stallard and Jones at random, simply due to the color of their skin. The victims are both black, and Bush is white.
"What more horrendous reason for someone to kill you, for the color of your skin," said Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf, reflecting on the one-year anniversary of the shooting. "That hit home right away."
Police later learned Bush had also gone to First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, a church with a predominately black congregation, moments before the shooting at Kroger. He couldn't get into the sanctuary.
Dieruf lobbied state representative in Kentucky to strengthen the commonwealth's hate crimes laws. The legislation did not pass. He said he will try again, next year.
"We never want it to define us," Dieruf said. "One person, one act of hatred, should not define a community."
In recent months, Stallard and Jones' families both filed lawsuits against Kroger. In September, Kroger asked customers at all 2,800 stores to no longer openly carry firearms.
The families' civil suits are pending while the criminal case against Bush proceeds. He faces two trials, one in state court and the other federal where crimes motivated by hate carry harsher penalties.
Prosecutors are considering going after the death in the Bush case, but the legal process is labored by his mental state. Bush was first ruled incompetent. Doctors now say his condition improved with medication. A judge will have the final say on whether the rail proceeds in a hearing scheduled for Oct. 31.
Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, marked the anniversary of the day when police say Gregory Bush Sr. tried -- and failed -- to enter the predominantly black First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown. Police say he then went to the Kroger at 9080 Taylorsville Road and shot and 69-year-old Maurice Stallard and 67-year-old Vicki Lee Jones, both of whom were black. Bush is white.
Police say Bush shot Stallard inside the store, then went outside and shot Jones.
At the time, several witnesses spoke afterward of their disbelief as the shootings unfolded.
"I was in the vitamin aisle, and ... who we believe to be the shooter, walked right by me." said Andrew Butler, who said she witnessed the shooting. "And just 3-5 seconds later, you heard a series of gunshots from that aisle."
At least twice, records show, Bush was hospitalized over concerns for his mental health, including once after a suicide attempt in 2000. His former wife later claimed he had been diagnosed as "paranoid" and given medication that he stopped taking.
A July report from the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center ruled Bush competent to stand trial. However, the judge in the case will rule on Bush's competency at a hearing set for Oct. 31 with KCPC staff and other witnesses.
Bush is facing state and federal charges, as well as civil lawsuits for the murders.
Prosecutors believe he targeted the victims because of the color of their skin, and are considering the death penalty.
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