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Louisville Leaders Remember Victims Of Kroger, Pittsburgh Shootings

The Temple synagogue Rabbi Gaylia Rooks blows a ceremonial Shofar horn during the moment of unity
The Temple synagogue Rabbi Gaylia Rooks blows a ceremonial Shofar horn during the moment of unity

State and local officials, and members of Louisville’s interfaith community held a vigil at Metro Hall Wednesday to remember the victims of last week’s shootings at the Jeffersontown Kroger and a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Prosecutors say the alleged Kroger shooter, 51-year-old Gregory Bush, was indicted on two counts of murder by a Jefferson County grand jury on Wednesday. Bush also was indicted on one count of criminal attempted murder and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, according to the Associated Press.

Federal officials are still investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime.

Gaylia Rooks, a rabbi for The Temple synagogue in Louisville, attended Wednesday’s vigil. Rooks said she was outraged but not surprised by the shootings.

“Just over a year ago when white nationalists rallied in Charlottesville and the president said there were good people on both sides, I feared this day would come,” Rooks said. “If we allow our leaders to model contempt and hatred for Jews, African-Americans, Muslims, the LGBT community, people of color, immigrants, refugees, the disabled or needy of our country, we are headed down a path that history has shown us ends only in death and disaster.”

For Kevin Nelson, Wednesday’s vigil was personal. Nelson is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, a predominantly black church that police say Bush attempted to enter before going to the nearby Kroger.

“My cry to this city, my cry to this nation, my cry to the world, is that regardless of our differences, let’s make an investment,” Nelson said. “Stand for what’s right. Because I’m a firm believer that in the end, righteousness will prevail and love will overcome all things.”

At the vigil, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Louisville will heal but the city will carry the scars forever. Fischer said the idea nothing can be done to prevent gun violence is “ridiculous” and “unacceptable.”

Fischer said he wants to strengthen the state’s hate crime law, which currently includes rape, assault, arson and unlawful imprisonment — but not murder.

The Associated Press reports that the alleged Pittsburgh shooter, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on 44 counts, including hate crimes.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.