A 21-year-old man first thought to be the shooter who was killed by a police officer was not the suspect after all, investigators said. At least one suspect remains at large in a Black Friday mall shooting in Alabama after a police officer killed a 21-year-old man authorities mistakenly thought was the gunman.
Officials initially said Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. had fired the rounds that injured an 18-year-old man he was fighting with at the Riverchase Galleria in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover. Hundreds of people fled the crowded mall after the gunshots rang out Thanksgiving night.
Although Bradford, of Hueytown, Alabama, fled the scene while armed with a handgun and was shot by a uniformed Hoover police officer, he did not likely fire the rounds that injured the 18- year-old and a 12-year-old girl, police said Friday night.
“We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not,” police officials said in a statement.They said they realized the error after Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators and crime scene technicians interviewed witnesses and examined evidence over the previous 20 hours.
They did say, that Bradford may have been involved “in some aspect of the altercation.”
Investigators said they now believe that more than two men were involved in the initial fight and at least one gunman was still at large.The unnamed officer who fatally shot Bradford was placed on administrative leave while a separate, internal investigation into the officer-involved portion of the case continued, police officials said.
The mall was closed after the shooting but reopened Friday. “We are devastated by the incident that happened last night in our shopping center,” wrote Lindsay Kahn, a spokesperson for Brookfield Properties retail group who owns the mall. “We are working closely with the Hoover Police Department and are grateful for their swift action to contain the situation.”
Multiple witnesses told NBC affiliate WVTM of Birmingham that they heard as many as 10 shots. Shopping was cut short on Thanksgiving Day last year when fights broke out at the same mall. One person was treated for minor injuries.