Archived: Update: A Black Church was the Louisville Shooter's First Target

Jeffersontown Police Chief Sam Rogers released information that Gregory Alan Bush tried unsuccessfully to enter a predominantly Black church 15 minutes before the Kroger shooting in Louisville, Ky.

The First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, which has surveillance video of Bush pulling on the historic church’s front doors, was just a few miles from the store.

Police said nothing connecting Bush to the victims or the store has been uncovered. Both victims had relatives that attended that church.

Billy Williams, the church administrator said a midweek service had just ended and 8 to 10 people were still inside. One member in the parking lot witnessed Bush pulling on the doors aggressively.

“There were 70 people here at our weekly meeting service just an hour before he came by,” said Mr. Williams, who was among them. “I’m just thankful that all of our doors and security was in place.”

Bush then headed to Kroger and shot and killed two Blacks, Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones, with multiple rounds.

Steve Zinninger, son of the man who confronted the shooter in the parking lot, said his father made the remark, “Whites don’t shoot whites.”

Police and the FBI have yet to declare Bush’s motives, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the incident is being considered and investigated as a possible hate crime.

The Louisville Urban Leagues posted their call for hate crime investigations, saying in part: “We recognize that the alleged perpetrator may have had a mental inquest warrant filed previously, however his FB posts, his comments, and his visit to First Baptist Jeffersontown lead us to express our concern.”

On Thursday, at Bush’s arraignment, a judge denied a request for a bond reduction and said, “I believe you to be a danger. You are to possess no firearms, to have no contact with any of the alleged victims’ families, and (have) no contact with the place of violation including any Kroger.”

Bush first shot Stallard in the store, while the grandfather was shopping with his 12-year-old grandson. The boy ran out of the store screaming for help toward Enzo Palombino who grabbed his hand and took him to his car to call his mom, Kellie Watson.

“We’re on the phone just trying to get ahold of his mom, and I could just see the fear in his face,” Palombino said. “And I’m holding him the whole time.”

He said the boy’s screams is still replaying in his head.

Jones, who was in the parking lot on the way to the store was shot multiple times by Bush who was only an “arm’s length” away from her, according to Chief Rogers.

Jones, a grandmother who retired from being an office administrator at the local Veterans Affairs hospital, was helping to care for her elderly mother. Keith Gunn, her nephew, said she was “a good Christian woman and wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

He said yesterday he was sad about his aunt’s death. He also described her as “one of the sweetest people you could know” and “warm and giving.” Today, he says he’s angry saying the shooting was “senseless.”

Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf called for the community to not let the shooting define them, and that Jeffersontown values its sense of family.

“We are kindred spirits no matter our walk of life or how we worship or what we look like. We take pride in that,” he said.

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