Alabama mall gunman still at large after police say armed man killed by officer 'likely did not fire' shots

5 months 3 weeks 2 days ago Saturday, November 24 2018 Nov 24, 2018 Saturday, November 24, 2018 4:16:00 PM CST November 24, 2018 in News
Source: CNN
By: By Madeline Holcombe and Faith Karimi, CNN

    (CNN) -- An armed 21-year-old man killed by an officer at a mall in Alabama on Thanksgiving night "likely did not fire" the shots that wounded two people and sent terrified shoppers running for cover, police said Friday.

Authorities initially thought Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., known as E.J., had fired the rounds at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, south of Birmingham, that left an 18-year-old and a 12-year-old hospitalized, Hoover police spokesman Capt. Gregg Rector said in a statement.

At first, police said Bradford opened fire after an altercation with the 18-year-old and an officer fatally shot him as he fled the scene.

But late Friday, police changed that story, saying that while Bradford was involved in "some aspect of the altercation" and was armed with a handgun, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the two others.

"We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not," Rector said.

Police: Altercation involved more than 2 people

The new information emerged after Jefferson County Sheriff's Office investigators and crime scene experts spoke to witnesses and examined evidence, police said.

"Investigators now believe that more than two individuals were involved in the initial altercation," Rector said. "This information indicates that there is at least one gunman still at large."

Police provided no name or description of the gunman at large.

The officer involved in the shooting is on administrative leave pending an investigation, police said.

Bradford's family released this statement Saturday afternoon:

"Our family is completely shocked, heartbroken and devastated at the tragic death of our beloved 'EJ.' EJ was a devoted son and brother, who dedicated his life to serving his country and always doing the right thing. As we continue to grieve, rest assured, that we are working diligently with our legal team to determine exactly what happened and why this police officer killed our son. We will never forget EJ, and ask for your continued prayers during this incredibly difficult time."

Members of the Bradford family have retained civil rights attorney Benjamin L. Crump, according to a release from the law firm.

The Jefferson County district attorney informed Hoover police Friday that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency will take over the lead role in the shooting investigation from the county sheriff's office, Rector said. Hoover police will "assist and cooperate fully" in that inquiry and will "conduct an internal but separate investigation" of the officer-involved shooting, he said.

That police would so quickly rescind their account of an officer having killed a shooter is unusual, CNN senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes said Saturday. But because new information pointed to a gunman on the loose, they had to do so "for the public's sake," he said.

The initial report, Fuentes said, reflects the "pressure on police and authorities when there's an officer-involved shooting to get out as much information as quickly as they can, even if it involves some kind of speculation or they're jumping to a conclusion."

Protesters demand justice outside the mall

Several dozen demonstrators, including women who described themselves as Bradford's relatives, gathered early Saturday afternoon outside the mall to demand justice, footage from CNN affiliate WVTM showed.

Holding signs reading, "Justice for E.J." and "Black Lives Matter," they likened Bradford's case to those of other black Americans shot dead by police in high-profile incidents, including Walter Scott, who was killed in North Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

"No justice, no peace," they shouted as they walked slowly around the shopping center before entering it. "No racist police."

One demonstrator drew attention to officers along the protest's perimeter, blaming them for the fatal shooting of Bradford, then called for the arrest of the officer who shot the 21-year-old.

More than one speaker referred to Bradford's military service. But while Bradford noted on his Facebook page that he was a US Army combat engineer, he never completed Advanced Individual Training and did not serve in the Army, Lt. Col. Manny Ortiz, an Army spokesman, told CNN.

'Freaking out', then escaping

The shooting at Alabama's largest enclosed mall happened shortly before 10 p.m. (11 p.m. ET) Thursday.

Police do not know how the confrontation began but don't believe the 18-year-old who was hurt was armed, they said. A gunman opened fire, shooting the teenager twice in the torso, according to police.

An armed Hoover police officer who was working security at the mall then confronted an armed man running away from the scene and fatally shot him, authorities said.

A 12-year-old girl described by police as a bystander was shot once, but it's unclear by whom, Rector said. Both of the injured were taken to hospitals.

Witnesses described chaotic scenes when gunshots rang out, with customers screaming and staff working to help people flee or hide.

"They (put) us in supply closets and locked the doors. And then we sat there for five to 10 minutes, all freaking out," Lexie Joyner told CNN affiliate WBRC. "And then they opened the escape-route doors, and we escaped."

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department is seeking the public's help in identifying a man found naked in two homes.... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 4:20:00 PM CDT May 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Orr Street Farmers and Artisans Market is now open every Sunday from 9 a.m. till 1 p.m.... More >>
3 hours ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 1:42:00 PM CDT May 19, 2019 in Continuous News
MOBERLY - A woman was arrested in Moberly Saturday night after a report of a shoplifting at Gordman's department store.... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 12:17:00 PM CDT May 19, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - Avengers super-fan Jace Aitkens needs a new kidney. His mom, Kayla Aitkens, said it all started when... More >>
9 hours ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 7:55:00 AM CDT May 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The 2018-2019 school year is wrapping up for students in Columbia, but they're still learning important skills. ... More >>
11 hours ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 6:00:00 AM CDT May 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Strong storms pummeled mid-Missouri Saturday evening, leaving lots of damage in their wake. A Facebook User sent... More >>
20 hours ago Saturday, May 18 2019 May 18, 2019 Saturday, May 18, 2019 8:54:00 PM CDT May 18, 2019 in News
KINGDOM CITY - High winds blew a tractor-trailer off the road at the intersection of Highway 54 and I-70 Saturday... More >>
21 hours ago Saturday, May 18 2019 May 18, 2019 Saturday, May 18, 2019 7:48:00 PM CDT May 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - People who suffer from chronic pain can now turn to alternative treatments besides opioids. Dr. Amanda Alcamo... More >>
22 hours ago Saturday, May 18 2019 May 18, 2019 Saturday, May 18, 2019 7:00:00 PM CDT May 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Thousands of customers throughout mid-Missouri lost power Saturday, according to the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. The... More >>
23 hours ago Saturday, May 18 2019 May 18, 2019 Saturday, May 18, 2019 5:53:00 PM CDT May 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Abortion Bill has passed in the House and Senate.  Saturday, mid-Missourians gathered outside of Columbia... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 18 2019 May 18, 2019 Saturday, May 18, 2019 2:18:00 PM CDT May 18, 2019 in News
MONITEAU COUNTY - Three people are in custody after they reportedly tried to run away from law enforcement Friday. ... More >>
1 day ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 9:02:00 PM CDT May 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Mizzou Athletics announced the team spaces and offices in it's new south end zone facility will be completed... More >>
1 day ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 5:53:00 PM CDT May 17, 2019 in News
MOBERLY - A day shy of his 95th birthday, a World War II veteran had the early birthday surprise of... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 3:12:00 PM CDT May 17, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Some Missouri lawmakers say they haven't given up on a bipartisan bill designed to change Missouri’s criminal... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 3:00:00 PM CDT May 17, 2019 in News
VERSAILLES - Graduation at Morgan County R-II High School is Saturday, but not all of the senior class will be... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 1:39:00 PM CDT May 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Blind Boone Home (10 N Fourth Street) will commemorate John William "Blind" Boone's 155th birthday on Saturday,... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 12:39:00 PM CDT May 17, 2019 in News
IONA - The Benton County Sheriff's Office arrested a man suspected of shooting and killing an Iona woman. Around... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 12:10:00 PM CDT May 17, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers have passed legislation limiting the number of young children at in-home child-care providers.... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 10:33:00 AM CDT May 17, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 71°
6pm 68°
7pm 66°
8pm 60°
9pm 55°