Police continue to search for the gunman behind a shooting Thursday night at an Alabama mall that left an 18-year-old young man and a 12-year-old girl with gunshot wounds.
Investigators said Friday that a man killed by police and initially believed to be the gunman “likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim.” He was identified as 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr.
The shooting happened around 10 p.m. Thursday at Riverchase Galleria as shoppers began looking for Black Friday deals.
Update 5:25 p.m. EST Nov. 23: Bradford’s family members said Saturday in a statement that they are “completely shocked, heartbroken and devastated at the tragic death of our beloved ‘EJ.’”
“EJ was a devoted son and brother, who dedicated his life to serving his country and always doing the right thing,” the statement said. “As we continue to grieve, rest assured, that we are working diligently with our legal team to determine exactly what happened and why this police officer killed our son. We will never forget EJ, and ask for your continued prayers during this incredibly difficult time.”
The Bradford family hired civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump to act as their attorney, AL.com reported.
Earlier Saturday, about 200 people marched through Riverchase Galleria in protest of Thursday’s shooting.
The Associated Press reported protesters held a moment of silence for Bradford at the spot where he was shot and killed. His stepmother, Cynthia, told the crowd Bradford was “a respectful young man” and the son of a Birmingham police officer, according to the AP.
Family members said he served in the U.S. Army, although an Army spokesman told CNN he did not serve.
Update 10:45 p.m. EST Nov. 23: Police in Hoover, Alabama, said Friday the gunman at a Birmingham area mall Thursday night is still at large.
Police shot and killed Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 21, when they initially responded to the emergency call of shots fired at the Riverchase Galleria.
Bradford, a U.S. soldier may have been mistaken for the gunman because he was carrying a weapon, according to the Hoover Sun.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has now taken over the case.
Police said in a news release they now believe more than two people were involved in the shooting of an 18-year-old man at the mall. They said Bradford was confronted as he was “fleeing the shooting scene while brandishing a handgun,” and that while he may have been involved in the incident, they don’t believe he fired the shots that injured the 18-year-old.
Update 8:30 p.m. EST Nov. 23: The man killed by police after a shooting at a Birmingham metro area mall late on Thursday night has been identified.
Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 21, from Hueytown, was shot and killed by police responding to the shooting, according to WBMA-TV.
Update 3:55 p.m EST Nov. 23: The mother of the 12-year-old girl injured Thursday took to Facebook to thank people who came to her daughter’s aid, AL.com reported.
Julie Moore Bennett said her daughter, Molly, didn't realize she had been shot in the back until Bennett's mother told her over the phone.
She said she got the call just before 10 p.m. and that several people came to her daughter's aid, including a military medic who cared for the girl until paramedics arrived, a nurse who assured Bennett's mother that paramedics were doing things right and shoe store employees who allowed medics to use a shirt of the rack to put pressure on her daughter's wound.
Bennett said Molly was “hurting a lot, but very brave and positive as always.”
“I am so thankful for everyone who helped us, for those who were at the hospital with us, and for all the messages and prayers,” Bennett said. “Yeah, bad guys are out there. But what I learned from this is that there are so many more good guys and girls who are willing to go above and beyond to help a stranger in need. I love every single one of you!”
Update 12:35 p.m. EST Nov. 23: Police said the 21-year-old man killed by authorities was shot after he brandished a pistol at an officer who was responding to Thursday night’s shooting.
The man’s name was not immediately released and the officer involved in the shooting was been placed on administrative leave as authorities investigate the incident.
A 12-year-old injured in Thursday’s shooting was in stable condition Friday at Children’s Hospital, police said. An 18-year-old young man who was also injured Thursday was in serious condition Friday at UAB Hospital.
“Thank God we had our officers very close,” Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis told AL.com. He said police were already on-alert because of expected Black Friday sales at the mall.
“They heard the gunfire, they engaged the subject, and they took out the threat,” Derzis told AL.com. “That threat could have materialized into a lot more people being injured. Thank goodness that did not happen.”
Police found a gun in the mall after it reopened at 6 a.m. Friday, WBRC reported, however, it was not immediately clear whether the gun was related to Thursday’s shooting.
Original report: Hoover police said a fight broke out between two teenagers inside the mall near the Footaction store and resulted in an exchange of gunfire, WTVM reported.
One of the teens, an 18-year-old, was injured and the other tried to flee but was confronted by Hoover police, the television station reported.
"One of our Hoover officers did engage that individual, shot him and he is dead on the scene," Cpt. Gregg Rector said at a news conference.
Rector said a 12-year-old girl was injured and was taken to a hospital. Police said the girl was alert and talking, WBRC reported.
The teen hurt in the shooting was in serious condition, WTVM reported.
Some shoppers in the mall were seen with their guns drawn, AL.com reported.
Riverchase Galleria officials released a statement, noting that the mall would be closed until further notice.
“We are devastated by the incident that happened tonight in our shopping center. We are working closely with the Hoover Police Department and are grateful for their swift action to contain the situation. While there is no current danger to our community, the shopping center will remain closed until further notice.”
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