An armed man who killed two people Wednesday in a Kroger supermarket in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, tried to invade a mostly black church minutes before the attack, police said Thursday.
The man, Gregory Bush, 51, of Louisville, was indicted on Thursday in two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton jeopardy. He was held with a $ 5 million bail. The police said they investigated the motive for the attack, which killed Vickie Lee Jones, 67, and Maurice E. Stallard, 69.
Both were black while Mr. Bush was white and the son of a witness told his father that the shooter made a racist remark during the episode, although the police said she could not confirm this report. Mr. Bush has a history of mental illness, Chief Jeff Rogers of the Jeffersontown Police Department said at a news conference Thursday.
Billy Williams, the church administrator, said there were eight to ten people in the church when Mr. Bush arrived after midweek. A church member in the parking lot was alerted when she saw him aggressively pulling at the front door of the historic church. Mr. Bush left after less than 10 minutes.
"There were 70 people here in our weekly meeting service, just an hour before he passed," said Mr. Williams, who was among them. "I'm just thankful that all our doors and our security were there."
He added that they prayed for the families of the victims. Both had relatives who visited the church, which recently celebrated its 185th anniversary.
After leaving the church, the police said that Mr. Bush went to the Kröger. They said he had arrived shortly before 3pm. and fired several rounds at Mr. Stallard. He then left and fired at Mrs. Jones in the parking lot, Chief Rogers said, beating her several times.
Mr. Bush was stopped by an armed spectator who had shot him in the parking lot and whose name had not been released by the police. Mr. Bush tried to escape, but he was captured by police officers. Chief Rogers said that Mr. Bush was detained four minutes after the first call for help.
Both Mr. Stallard and Mrs. Jones were declared dead at the scene.
Chief Rogers said there were conflicting reports of a second armed spectator in the supermarket, and he could not confirm the report of a local man who spoke with reporters on Wednesday.
This man, Steve Zinninger, told a local television station that his father had also been facing Mr. Bush with a firearm. Mr. Zinninger said the shooter told his father, "Whites do not kill white" and went on.
Local media reported that Mr. Bush had a long criminal history, including charges of assault, domestic violence and threats, including those who used racist terms.
A Facebook page that seems to belong to Mr. Bush contains a detailed description of his struggles with mental illness.
"My paranoid schizophrenia finally prevented me from working, and now I have a mental disability" (19459023). "I am happy that I have made it so far, with all the difficulties I have inflicted on myself as I move away from my medicine."
Chief Rogers said that officials of F.B.I. and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives helped with the investigation and wanted to find out if the pistol that he said had been used in the attack was legally preserved
. Stallard was the father of Kellie Watson, who serves as Louisville's Chief Equity Officer. In a statement, Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville said he was "sick and heartbroken and angry" about what had happened and asked the public to respect the privacy of the family.
Ms. Jones' nephew, Kevin Gunn, said she was "a good Christian and would do nothing to a fly."
In a telephone interview, Mr. Gunn, 48, said his aunt had been released from the local veteran hospital to help care for an elderly family member. He called the shooting "pointless".
"It seems a lot more than mental illness," he said. "It seems like a hate crime."
"Yesterday I was sad," Mr. Gunn said. "Today I'm angry."