A man who was at the scene of a shooting at a Kentucky Kroger store said that moments after the alleged gunman killed two black victims, he told the white bystander that “whites don’t kill whites.”
The witness' comments, first reported by NBC affiliate WAVE3 in Louisville, was confirmed by the man’s wife, Elaine Harrell. She said her husband, identified as Ed Harrell by the Courier-Journal, has spoken to the FBI about his interaction with the suspect.
The WAVE3 report said Ed Harrell was armed when he came into contact with the alleged shooter, Gregory Bush, 51, in the store’s parking lot. That was when Bush, who also is white, allegedly uttered the phrase to him.
Bush allegedly entered the Jeffersontown store around 2 p.m. Wednesday and shot his first victim, later identified as Maurice Stallard, 69, multiple times, including when Stallard was down on the floor, according to the police report. After leaving the store, the alleged gunman shot the second victim, later identified as Vickie Lee Jones, 67, in the parking lot.
The police report says an unidentified armed civilian challenged the shooter and that Bush allegedly began firing at Jones in the parking lot.
A motive for the shooting remained under investigation Thursday, police said. But new details about the alleged gunman's whereabouts before the shooting emerged.
“We received a tip that the suspect was seen outside of a local church,” Jeffersontown Police Chief Sam Rogers said Thursday at a news conference.
Rogers said Bush attempted to enter the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, a predominantly black church, 10 to 15 minutes before the shooting but was “unsuccessful.” He said he could not confirm whether the gunman was armed when he attempted to go inside.
Bush’s Facebook page indicates he has a history of posting racially charged opinions.
“They cast a black Human Torch, why not a white Static-Shock? You know why,” Bush said in a 2015 post linking to an article about actor Jaden Smith being confirmed to play the superhero.
Bush also acknowledges on the same Facebook account that he has schizophrenia.
“I have worked most of my life and battled mental illness throughout my life,” Bush wrote. “My paranoid-schizophrenia finally stopped me from working and now am on mental disability. I'm lucky I made it this far with all the trouble I've caused myself when I get off my medicine.”
Rogers has since said there is “some mental illness history with the suspect in question.” Investigators have not yet determined whether Bush was allowed to own a gun or how he obtained it, the police chief said.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Kroger and the city’s mayor have since expressed sorrow for those affected by the incident.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the Vicki Jones and Maurice Stallard whose lives were cut short in this senseless act – and especially want to remember the grandson who was with his grandfather at the time of the shooting,” said Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf in a statement. “We also seek a sense of peace for the store employees and residents of our community who were witnesses to the terrible tragedy.”
Kroger officials said in a statement that they are “shocked” and “saddened” by the incident. Kroger closed the store after the shooting and will reopen it after the investigation is complete.
Both the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting in the investigation. Authorities have seized Bush's computers and phones, Rogers said.
Bush appeared in court Thursday for arraignment and his bond was set at $5 million, according to court records. He is charged with two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment.