On Thanksgiving, a mall shooting wounded two people, including an 18-year-old and a 12-year-old, in a mall about ten miles south of Birmingham, Alabama. The circumstances of how the confrontation started are not yet known. An armed Hoover police officer who was working mall security shot and killed an armed 21-year-old whom they believed was the suspect.
Now, it’s coming out that the actual suspected gunman is still at large.
At first, authorities believed Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. fired the shots that wounded the two victims. According to Captain Gregg Rector, the Hoover police spokesman, they believed Bradford began shooting after having an altercation of sorts with the 18-year-old. As he was fleeing the scene, a responding officer shot and killed him.
The original police statement is pretty straightforward:
During the fight, one of the males produced a handgun and shot the other male twice in the torso. Two uniformed Hoover police officers providing security at the mall were in close proximity and heard the gunshots. While moving toward the scene, one of the officers encountered a suspect brandishing a pistol and shot him . That individual, a 21-year-old male from Hueytown, was pronounced deceased on the scene.
On Friday, the police updated their statement to clarify that while Bradford was involved in “some aspect of the altercation” he probably did not fire the rounds that wounded the victims.
“We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not,” Rector said.
The officer who killed Bradford is on administrative leave, pending the investigation.
Of the two victims in addition to Bradford, the 18-year-old was shot twice in the torso and remains in serious condition. The 12-year-old, who was seemingly an unrelated, innocent bystander, was shot in the back and is in stable condition. Both were taken to the hospital from the scene.
Witnesses say the scene was chaotic, with people trying to hide or escape, as seen in this video:
While details about the situation are still largely unknown, many people are pointing out that if Bradford had been a white man with a gun, even if he were the most obvious suspect in the moment, he may not have been shot and killed at the scene. He could have been subdued in a non-fatal way, as is often the response with non-black suspects.
Police are asking anyone who has videos or pictures from the scene to send them to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.