July 5 (UPI) — A shootout inside an Alabama mall killed an 8-year-old boy and injured three others Friday.
According to police, gunfire erupted at 3:18 p.m. Friday on the first floor of the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Ala., and among the injured was 8-year-old Royta Giles Jr., who was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at a Birmingham hospital.
Three other victims — a man, a woman and a juvenile female — were transported to area hospitals. Their condition is unknown.
Royta’s mother, who spoke with a local newspaper anonymously, said she and her three children and their stepfather were waiting to get into a children’s clothing store, which was limiting the number of shoppers due to COVID-19 precautions, when shots suddenly rang out.
“We heard the gunshots and I grabbed them and we hit the ground,” she said. “When we all got up, he was the only one who didn’t get up.”
Royta was to begin third grade in the fall, and had aspirations to become a rapper.
“To the people who did this, if I could say anything to them, it’s I don’t care about justice or anything like that,” she said. “I wouldn’t say I’m religious, I would say I’m more spiritual, and the person who did this is going to have to answer for that whether it is to whoever they pray to or if it’s the streets.”
“Our hearts are simply broken at the tragic loss of Royta,” Bessemer City Schools Superintendent Dr. Autumn Jeter said in a statement. “We are here for the family in every way possible, and we ask that everyone lifts the mother, family, and our school community in your prayers. This is tough.”
Police are still investigating the incident.