Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday condemned shootings over the past week that targeted African-American and Jewish people, labeling them hate crimes.
“If these are not hate crimes, I don’t know what a hate crime is," McConnell said while speaking to the Federalist Society in Kentucky.
Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones, both of whom were black, were shot and killed last week in a grocery store in a suburb of Louisville, Ky. Gregory A. Bush, 51, a white man who was charged in the killings, had tried to enter a predominantly black church prior to the attack at Kroger, according to WDRB.com.
Bush was convicted of domestic assault in 2009 and has made racist remarks in the past, WDRB reported.
On Saturday, 11 people attending Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh were allegedly killed by Robert Bowers, who has been charged with 29 federal crimes, including 11 counts of obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and 11 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder.
Bowers had previously made a number of anti-Semitic remarks on social media.
McConnell called both shootings "awful" and implied the shooters would qualify for the death penalty if convicted.
"I'm somebody who still embraces the death penalty," McConnell said. "These two occasions in my view would be appropriate for the death penalty."