Alabama police suspect at least two gunmen at large after shooting at US shopping centre
- Armed 21-year-old man was shot dead in Hoover mall following a confrontation with police, but officials now say he may not have acted alone
Police say a man shot and killed by a police officer at an Alabama shopping mall on Thursday night was probably not the person who shot a teenager that evening.
Twenty-one-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford was shot and killed by a police officer responding to the Thanksgiving night shooting that wounded an 18-year-old and 12-year-old.
Captain Gregg Rector said in a Friday news release that new evidence suggested that while Bradford “may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old”.
Police said an officer shot Bradford because he was seen “brandishing a handgun” while fleeing the scene.
Rector said they now believe that more than two individuals were involved in the altercation that started the shooting and a gunman is at large.
The Hoover Police Department said in a statement that two men were engaged in a “physical altercation” at the glitzy Riverchase Galleria in Hoover late on Thursday, when one of the men pulled out a handgun and shot the other man twice.
Two officers who were providing security at the mall heard the gunfire and approached the area. They spotted Bradford, a resident of Hueytown, waving a pistol and shot him.
The other shooting victim was from Birmingham. He was taken to a nearby hospital in serious condition. A 12-year-old girl nearby was also shot and taken to Children’s Hospital by a Hoover Fire Department rescue squad.
Police said the fight happened on the mall’s second floor concourse area, near the entrance to the Footaction shoe shop. Captain Greg Rector said investigators did not know what sparked the original confrontation between the men.
A witness, Lexi Joiner, told Al.com she was shopping with her mother when the gunfire started. Joiner said she heard six or seven shots and was ordered, along with some other shoppers, into a supply room for cover.
“It was terrifying,” Joiner said.
A woman who described herself as the mother of the injured 12-year-old posted on social media that the girl was on a Black Friday shopping trip with other family members when the shooting happened, and did not immediately realise that the pain in her back was from a bullet.
“She was hurting a lot, but very brave and positive as always,” the mother wrote after seeing the girl when she arrived at a hospital.
Hoover police said on Friday morning that the girl was in stable condition.
The officer who shot the gunman was placed on administrative leave while the authorities investigate the shooting. The officer’s name was not released. The officers were not hurt.
Video posted on social media by shoppers showed a chaotic scene as shoppers fled the mall, which closed for the rest of Thursday night.
The mall, located in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, reopened at 6am on Friday, a Riverchase Galleria mall security officer said. It bills itself as the largest enclosed shopping centre in Alabama, with more than 150 shops.
Hoover police had asked the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the shooting, but the sheriff’s office turned it over to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency because a witness is closely related to a member of the sheriff’s office.
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press