The Kroger shooter reportedly told an armed white witness, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”
Wednesday, October 24, will forever be known as the day that a slew of pipe bombs were sent to CNN and a long list of prominent Democrats across the country. Today, October 25, will likely be known as the day President Donald Trump seemed to publicly blame the bombs being sent on members of the media themselves.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s an enormous mess. Bombs being sent to the homes and offices of former presidents, vice presidents, and members of Congress is a big deal. It deserves to dominate news coverage. And when the sitting president of the United States — while those bombs are still being discovered — tweets about how the simmering anger of this country is because of the media, we have a real problem on our hands.
The bombs, though, were actually Wednesday’s second-most important story in this country. The other most important story caught the media’s attention for just a few minutes, then faded right back out of the news cycle. In its short life as a national story, no one ever quite got it right.
In the calm of a sunny afternoon, at a Kroger grocery store in the east side of Louisville, Kentucky, a 51-year-old white man named Gregory Bush walked right into the store with a loaded gun, targeted two black customers, and killed them.
“Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”
The first victim was a black grandfather, Maurice Stallard, who was shopping for groceries with his 12-year-old grandson in tow. Bush shot the grandfather in the back of his head, then continued shooting him after he fell to the ground, according to an account of the arrest citation. Stallard was the father of the city of Louisville’s chief racial equity officer, Kellie Watson, who has served as an executive in the mayor’s office for years.
After Bush killed Stallard, he calmly walked out of the store and tracked down another black customer, this time a woman, and shot and killed her. Standing outside of the store, a witness confirmed that the woman was his mother. When Ed Harrell, a white man in the parking lot, saw Bush coming toward him, he pulled out his own revolver, and yelled to ask what was going on. According to Harrell, Bush replied, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”
And there we are.
While Louisville officials are still saying they don’t have a motive for the shooting, it appears to me that Bush made his intentions pretty damn clear in that parking lot. He came there to shoot black people. Trump says the simmering anger in this country is primarily caused by the news media, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what caused Bush to shoot and kill a grandfather in front of his grandson and then a mother pushing some groceries through the parking lot.
It was racism. These killings were hate crimes. Saying otherwise is not only an insult to the victims and their families, but to the entire black community of Louisville, which is reeling right now from this.