Gregory Alan Bush—the white man who walked into a Louisville, Ky., area Kroger supermarket in 2018 and fatally shot two elderly Black people—pleaded guilty to murder on Tuesday and will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. Bush—who is reportedly schizophrenic and was unmedicated at the time of the shooting, according to his attorney—is also facing federal hate crime charges, because while mental illness might somewhat explain why he walked into a grocery store and opened fire, murdering two people, mental illness doesn’t make a person racist and there is little doubt that race played a part in the senseless killings.
The Associated Press reports that Bush “plead[ed] guilty but mentally ill” in Jefferson Circuit Court to two counts of murder, criminal attempted murder and wanton endangerment. He was sentenced to two life terms to be served concurrently.
Pleading guilty but mentally ill means the Kentucky Department of Corrections must provide Bush with treatment and medication during his term, according to Jeff Cooke, a spokesman for the commonwealth’s attorney’s office.
Under a plea agreement, Bush also was set to plead guilty to federal hate crime charges in February. Federal prosecutors alleged the shooting of Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vickie Jones, 67, was racially motivated, though Attorney General William Barr agreed not to seek the death penalty.
According to WDRB-TV, Angela Elleman, one of Bush’s attorneys, said in a statement that Bush’s “schizophrenia was not medicated, so he was tortured by voices that threatened to kill him and his family.”
“He acted out of his psychosis and his illness, while at the very same time his elderly parents were downtown seeking a mental inquest warrant to hospitalize him for everyone’s safety,” Elleman said, adding that Bush’s actions that day “are not keeping with his character when medicated. Mr. Bush has agreed to spend the remainder of his life in prison where he can be safely treated and medicated.”
But, again, lack of medication doesn’t explain why Bush seemingly targeted Black people in his terroristic attack. As The Root previously reported, just before Bush headed to Kroger to begin his rampage, he tried to enter the historically Black First Baptist Church in Jeffersontown, which thankfully, was locked at the time.
As Bush was exiting Kroger after the shooting, he reportedly told a white man who was crouched behind a car holding a gun, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”
According to court records, Bush also has a history of making racist comments, including allegations that he repeatedly called his ex-wife, who is Black, “a nigger bitch.”
WDRB reports that the family members of Bush’s victims spoke at his sentencing hearing.
“I just don’t understand why you selected anyone—It can’t be just for the color of their skin,” Charlotte Stallard, Maurice’s wife, said. “To me, it has to be more than that. You can’t hate someone that much for the color of their skin. You have ruined my life. I’d like to just have an idea why?”
Kelly Watson, Stallard’s daughter—whose son was with Stallard at the time of the shooting—said in court, “That day replays in my head constantly.”
“The man whose life you took, he gave and he loved everybody around him,” Watson said. “He was there for everybody, and I hope that while you are sitting in jail, you are able to reconcile your own life and think about what you did. And I’m grateful you will never be able to hurt anyone else.”