Photo provided by Louisville Department of Corrections
JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. (AP) — The fatal shooting death of two black grocery patrons by a white gunman is being investigated as a possible hate crime, a U.S. official said Friday.
Federal investigators are examining if there were any violations of federal law, “which includes potential civil rights violations such as hate crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Russell M. Coleman in Louisville.
Gregory A. Bush, 51, has been charged with murder and other crimes in the deaths of the man and the woman at a Kroger store Wednesday in Jeffersontown, located on the outskirts of Louisville. The FBI is investigating alongside local police.
“The murders are not being taken lightly by the United States government,” Coleman said in a prepared statement.
Police said Bush attempted to enter a historically black church minutes before arriving at the grocery store. A surveillance video confirmed Bush’s presence at the Jeffersontown First Baptist Church about 10 to 15 minutes before he went to the Kroger, Police Chief Sam Rogers said. The church is headed by a black pastor and has a large African-American membership.
Bush “appeared to try to gain access to the church,” Rogers said.
The information came as news media outlets reported that Bush made a racial comment after the deadly shooting in Jeffersontown, a city of about 26,600 people.