The white man who shot and killed two black people in a Kroger in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, on Wednesday tried to enter a black church just minutes before the attack, police said.
Surveillance video shows the gunman, identified by police as 51-year-old Gregory Bush of Louisville, attempting the enter the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown during a midweek service just before the shooting, according to the New York Times. A church member in the parking lot witnessed the man aggressively pulling on the church’s front doors, according to the Times. Less than 10 minutes later, he drove off toward the Kroger.
According to the church administrator, there were eight to 10 people inside the church at the time. An hour before, there had been 70 people at a weekly meeting service.
Bush has been charged with two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment. The victims, identified as 67-year-old Vickie Lee Jones and 69-year-old Maurice E. Stallard, do not appear to have been known by the shooter.
On Wednesday, a man who said he saw the gunman leaving the scene of the shooting told local news that after he heard the gunfire, he grabbed his revolver and yelled out to the shooter from behind his car. According to the witness, the gunman replied, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.” Police told the Times that they have not confirmed this account.
According to police, Bush has a history of mental illness and domestic violence. As the Courier Journal reported, Bush’s father once petitioned the court for emergency protection after his son lifted his mother off the ground by her neck and punched his father in the jaw. The father wrote that Bush always carried guns, made threats, and exhibited signs of paranoia. A judge ordered him to surrender his guns and undergo mental health treatment in 2009, but that order was lifted in 2011.
Jones’ family described her as “one of the sweetest people you could know,” with a “a warm and giving heart,” according to the Courier Journal. She had retired from the local veterans affairs hospital, where she had worked as an office administrator. She had two sons and multiple grandchildren.
Stallard had been shopping with his 12-year-old grandson for a poster board for his school project when he was shot. A military veteran and retired GE employee, he was described as a “generous family man” who “always greeted people with a hug,” according to the Courier Journal. He was the father of Kellie Watson, who works in the mayor’s office as Louisville’s chief racial equity officer.