Police Chief: Jeffersontown Shooting 'Racism in Action;' More News

Gregory Bush killed two African-American shoppers at a Kroger outside Louisville — a crime that is increasingly drawing attention for its likely racial motivations

click to enlarge Gregory Bush, the suspected gunman in the Jeffersontown, Kentucky shootings - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
Gregory Bush, the suspected gunman in the Jeffersontown, Kentucky shootings

Hello all. Here’s a quick news update to get your week started.

A local vigil remembering the 11 people killed Saturday during a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh packed the Mayerson JCC to capacity yesterday evening. The Congressional Rabbis and the Jewish Community Relations Council organized the vigil, which drew attendees from a number of faith traditions and backgrounds.

The vigil was part of a large outpouring of solidarity locally from various faith communities and other groups.

“We condemn in the strongest terms this horrific, violent attack on the Jewish community and on a house of worship,” said Council on American-Islam Relations Cincinnati Executive Director Karen Dabdoub in a statement. “Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and throughout the U.S. It is incumbent on all Americans who believe in the founding principle of our nation, freedom of religion, to speak out and to work for civil dialogue and peaceful coexistence among all faith, ethnic and ideological communities in our country. That is the only way to ensure that this type of horrible tragedy never happens again.”

Vocal anti-Semite Robert Bowers was arrested at the scene of the Pittsburgh shooting after he opened fire during a worship ceremony while reportedly yelling “all Jews must die.” Bowers had been very active in online white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups. Among the victims was a 97-year-old holocaust survivor.

People across the country will hold a moment of silence for the victims of the Tree of Life shootings today at noon.

• Cincinnati Red Bike has renewed a key sponsorship as it eyes expansion plans. UC Health has signed on as a sponsor for another five years, meaning you’ll continue to see the group’s logo on every Red Bike and partnerships between the two organizations at community events like the Black Family Reunion. Red Bike currently has 57 stations and 440 bikes in Cincinnati, Covington, Bellevue and Newport and is raising money to eventually expand into Avondale, Bond Hill, the West End, Lower Price Hill and other neighborhoods.

"There would be no Red Bike without UC Health," said Red Bike Executive Director Jason Barron. "As a nonprofit, Red Bike relies on partners like UC Health to continue to keep the bikes in tip-top condition so that people throughout the region can enjoy them. UC Health's renewed commitment is going to help support our efforts to reach more neighborhoods in the future. We are going to have a lot of fun together over the next few years."

• What might the hotly-contested governor’s race between Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine mean for us here in Cincinnati? Here are a few insights in this Cincinnati Business Courier story. Cordray indicated he’d consider funding for a second phase of the Cincinnati streetcar and wants Ohio to better-fund public transit more generally. DeWine, meanwhile, touted his ability to bring people together politically during these divisive times and talked up the possibility that the Opportunity Zones created in the GOP tax reform bill could bring new investment into neighborhoods like Cincinnati’s West End. More on Cordray and DeWine in our election guide here.

• Meanwhile, in more election news, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval continues to trail U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot by a wide margin in his quest to unseat Chabot from his 1st Congressional District seat. According to polling conducted by The New York Times, Chabot leads that race 50 percent to 41 percent, with 9 percent of voters undecided. The poll has a 4.5 percent margin of error. Read more about the race in our election guide coverage here.

• One more quick election story: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and his challenger U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, a Republican, squared off for a third and final debate in Oxford Friday night. The race between the two has been brutal, to say the least. Brown leads by a comfortable, double-digit margin — a fact that may have pushed Renacci to unearth decades-old divorce records from Brown’s first marriage and accuse the incumbent of domestic abuse. At the debate Friday, Renacci called for Brown to step down due to the allegations, a move that got jeers from the crowd for the Republican. Brown fired back by bringing up Renacci’s use of a strip club owner’s private plane to get to campaign events without disclosing the value of those flights on campaign finance filings. The acrimony continued through a number of other issues, including immigration, but may have peaked when Brown called Renacci just about the worst thing you can be in Ohio — a Steelers fan. You can read more about the race between the two in our election guide coverage here.

• Maybe you remember the historic five-story building off I-75 in Covington as the old Jillian’s, a cool, weird, cavernous spot where you went to see bands way back in the day. Or maybe, if you’re really old school, you remember it as the Bavarian Brewery, which opened in 1866 and closed up shop 100 years later. Either way, soon, it will be something else entirely — the home of Kenton County government. A number of county offices will move into the renovated space when it is completed next spring. For more on the project, check out this Cincinnati Enquirer story.

• Finally, the deadly shooting of two black shoppers at a Kroger in Jeffersontown, Kentucky was “racism in action,” the town’s police chief told a congregation of the church that the suspected gunman had tried to enter just before the killings. Chief Sam Rogers told local media he wasn't planning to speak at the church's regular Sunday service, but felt compelled to let congregants know the racial element of the crime was on his mind. Security footage shows Gregory Bush attempting to get into the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, just outside of Louisville, moments before he arrived at the Kroger and shot a man in the back of the head in the store and a woman in the parking lot. Bush, who may have a history of mental illness, reportedly told a bystander that he wouldn’t shoot him because “whites don’t shoot whites” before he got in a vehicle and left. Police apprehended him a short time later. The FBI is now investigating the shootings as a hate crime.

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