On Friday, police announced that the 21-year-old black man suspected as the Alabama mall shooter on Thanksgiving evening "likely did not fire" shots at a Hoover mall. At least two people were injured from the shooting at the largest shopping mall in Alabama, and at least one shooter is at large, according to a police statement.
Emantic "E.J." Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was originally and erroneously identified as the shooter on Thursday after an officer shot and killed him. Bradford Jr. was allegedly fleeing the scene, according to The Washington Post. "New evidence now suggests that while Mr. Bradford may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim," Hoover police said in a statement on Friday. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has taken over the investigation, according to the statement posted to Twitter. (The Riverchase Galleria in Hoover is about 13 miles south of Birmingham.)
The Hoover Police Department will still conduct an internal investigation into the "officer-involved shooting portion" of the mall shooting incident. "Our department does not typically issue media updates during an internal investigation, but there was information discussed with local media last night that merits update and clarification," the department said in a statement.
The Washington Post reported that police first said the fight was between an 18-year-old man and Bradford Jr. that ended in gunfire. The 18-year-old man was injured, as well as a 12-year-old girl. But the past 24 hours have changed their views of what happened on Thanksgiving.
"Over the past 20 hours, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office investigators and crime scene technicians have interviewed numerous individuals and examined several critical evidentiary items," Hoover police said in a statement, leading to the conclusion that Bradford Jr. "likely did not fire" the bullets that injured the teenagers. WBRC, the Fox affiliate in Birmingham, reported that Bradford Jr. was pronounced dead at the mall at 10:11 p.m.
His death put him amongst the more than 850 people who were shot and killed by police in 2018, per The Washington Post.
The 18-year-old has serious injuries, while the 12-year-old girl is in stable condition at the hospital, according to the news channel. The investigation remains ongoing, but the police said it's likely that more than two people were involved. After the mall was reopened early Friday morning for Black Friday shopping, a gun was found in Santa's Village, according to WBRC reporter Bakari Savage.
Hoover police ask that anyone with information — photos or video — come forward to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
The mall also released a statement after the shooting, urging cooperation with police. "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," the statement read, according to WBRC.