(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
According to a new report from NPR, law enforcement is now investigating the Kroger shooting as a hate crime. NPR reported on a statement from Russell Coleman, the U.S. attorney for the Western district of Kentucky. Coleman stated the murders are being looked at as “civil rights violations such as hate crimes,” according to NPR.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also made a statement regarding the shooting.
Politico reports that, while giving a speech to the Federalist Society of Kentucky, Sen. McConnell called the murders hate crimes. “If these are not hate crimes, I don’t know what a hate crime is,” McConnell reportedly said.
The senator also said he thinks the death penalty should be considered for the Kroger shooter as well as for the gunman who killed eleven people at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa. These “two occasions in my view would be appropriate for the death penalty,” he stated, according to Politico.
The shooter responsible for two deaths at a Kroger in Jeffersontown, Kentucky appeared to have a different initial target in mind. According to a report from CNN affiliate WDRB, 10 to 15 minutes before the murderer made his way to the grocery store, he tried to force his way into a predominantly black church, but found the doors to be locked. Church services had already ended.
WDRB reports that a churchgoer saw the shooter banging on the church doors, which the church’s security cameras also recorded.
Though both of the victims of the shooting were black, and despite the new evidence, police are not yet saying the attack was racially motivated.
Here’s more from WDRB (shooter’s name redacted):
The man charged with shooting and killing two people at a suburban Louisville Kroger on Wednesday has a history of mental illness, made racist threats and repeatedly called his ex-wife the N-word, according to court records.
Church leaders said Thurday they’re thankful [redacted] didn’t come to the church any earlier, because there was a midday service Wednesday afternoon.
‘Loss of life anywhere is pretty tragic, but just to think that an hour and a half earlier we had 70 people in the church,’ church administrator Billy Williams said. ‘But by the time he came through, all doors were locked, and there were probably eight or 10 still in the building.’
Williams said the shooting victims were relatives of some of the church members.
WDRB also reports, in graphic detail, that the murderer walked into a Kroger and randomly shot 69-year-old Maurice Stallard in the back of the head. He then repeatedly shot Stallard in the body. After killing Stallard, the shooter left the store for the parking lot. Once outside, he shot and killed 67-year-old Vickie Jones. A WDRB reporter at the scene tweeted an EMT at the store tried to save Jones’ life but was unable to do so.
Just talked to a man who is an EMT and was shopping and he saw two people shooting at each other and says an elderly woman was caught in the crossfire . He tried to do CPR on her, but says she died. @WDRBNews pic.twitter.com/H9SNqBVq7I
— Valerie Chinn WDRB (@ValerieChinn) October 24, 2018
A man with a valid conceal-carry permit did engage the shooter, and the two exchanged fire.
Police apprehended the shooter away from the Kroger.
The reporting from WDRB digs into the shooter’s past in great detail, including his previous run-ins with law enforcement, his mental health issues, and how he took medication as a paranoid-schizophrenic. WDRB also reported that the shooter’s parents feared their son as he was verbally and physically abusive. A 2009 domestic violence conviction should’ve prevented the murderer from obtaining a firearm, but as Tom addressed earlier, current gun laws appeared to fail yet again.
The shooting at the Kroger came two days before Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., where an anti-Semite opened fire killing 11 people.
If the Kroger shooter had been able to enter the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, it would’ve been the second attack on a church in a year, and had the potential to resemble the mass shooting at Emmanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where the shooter murdered nine church members.