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McConnell calls for death penalty in Kroger, synagogue shootings

Sen. Mitch McConnell hopes federal prosecutors seek the death penalty in the deadly shooting at a Louisville Kroger and a Pittsburgh synagogue.

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks the shooting at Kroger, and the synagogue massacre are "hate crimes.”

He called for bringing down the "tone" during a stop in Shelbyville on Monday, Oct. 29.

"If these aren't hate crimes I don't know what the definition of a hate crime is,” McConnell said.

The Senate Majority Leader found himself on friendly soil in Shelbyville. His parents spent the last ten years of their life in Shelbyville, business leaders in this community have often given him warm welcomes like at this luncheon before the county's industrial and development foundation.

McConnell’s remarks began with a focus on the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting rampage and the Jeffersontown Kroger killings.

"I don't know what's going on in our country. You know periodically, we've had these kind of outbreaks by deranged people, but it certainly gets your attention that the whole rhetoric and tone,” McConnell said. “It seems to me, is a lot hotter than it ought to be. And I don't cast that blame on one side or the other. It's just collectively it seems to me we need to turn the temperature down here."

After his speech, WHAS11 sat down for an exclusive one-on-one interview and WHAS11 asked him what he meant by turning down the political rhetoric and tone.

“It's hard to turn down the political rhetoric right before an election,” McConnell said. “It tends to be that way every two years, but I think once we get this election behind us I hope everybody will try to settle down and get back to normal.”

McConnell said it is hard to blame political discourse on any one thing or person.

“You know we had one of our members of the House of Representatives shot by a Bernie Sanders supporter last year,” McConnell said. “I think attributing the acts of deranged people to political discourse is a mistake.”

The Senate Majority Leader said he's not concerned about his own safety, calling the tactics of those who have confronted him at local restaurants "counterproductive.”

As for the most recent shootings, Leader McConnell hopes federal prosecutors seek the death penalty in both cases.

►Contact reporter Chris Williams at cwilliams@whas11.com. Follow him on Twitter (@chriswnews) and Facebook.