The 21-year-old black man killed by police during the Alabama mall shooting was not the gunman, say police who have warned that the shooter is still on the loose.
Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., the son of a Birmingham cop and a combat engineer in the US Army, was shot dead by officers responding to reports of an active shooter at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving Day.
An 18-year-old boy was shot twice after getting into a fight with the gunman, and a nearby 12-year-old girl was also injured when struck by a stray bullet.
On Friday evening, Hoover Police Department revealed new evidence showing that Bradford may have been involved in an altercation with the 18-year-old, and at least one other individual, ‘he likely did not fire the rounds’ that injured the victims.
Investigators now believe that several people were involved in the original fight, which broke out at 9.30pm on Thursday, and it’s unclear whether Bradford was attempting to break up the altercation, or if he was involved from the beginning.
Police says Bradford was fleeing the scene while brandishing a handgun when he was shot and killed by a uniformed Hoover police officer.
Bradford was pronounced dead at the scene at 10.11pm.
The officer involved has been placed on administrative leave.
Hoover police say the evidence, which came from witness statements and crime scene technicians, means that the real gunman is still at-large. A weapon was later recovered from inside the mall’s Santa’s Village.
Footage taken from inside the mall showed Bradford’s body lying in a pool of blood moments after he was shot dead by police.
The video, filmed from within the Footaction store, also captured people frantically shouting for customers to leave the premises where Bradford’s body was positioned on its side.
‘Everybody out!’ one person can be heard yelling.
Another shouts: ‘Let’s go! Everybody out of the store.’
Bradford’s devastated stepmother, Cynthia Kenniebrew Bradford, hopes to clear her son’s name, writing that she was ‘sick of all the lies going around.’
‘To loose(sic) a mom and dad was a terrible thang(sic), but to loose a innocent child is beyond words. My heart is so heavy right now. RIP EJ.’
Bradford, known to friends and family as E.J., was a graduate of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School in Birmingham and enlisted in the U.S. Army, his old teacher Carl Dean told the Hoover Sun.
Dean said he didn’t believe that Bradford was capable of shooting a teen in the mall.
‘He was a super sweet, funny, kind and goodhearted young man who never had a bad word to say to anyone’ Dean said. ‘When I saw this morning that he was allegedly involved in causing the tragedy at the mall last night, I was shocked and in disbelief as well as heartbroken that this young man is no longer with us.’
Witnesses told WBRC in Alabama that the shooting happened ‘between JCPenney and Footaction near the food court.’
Cops say a fight broke out between multiple people, which escalated quickly.
Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector said: ‘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 shooting 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 dead on the scene.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail