Nov. 24 (UPI) — The man police shot and killed Thanksgiving night at an Alabama mall is likely not the shooter who injured two people, leaving a suspect at large, authorities said.
Police killed Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr, 21, Thursday night after misidentifying him as the gunman who fired rounds injuring an 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl after a fight at the Riverchase Galleria in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover during a Black Friday sale, authorities said.
A Hoover police officer shot and killed Bradford, of Hueytown, Ala., as he fled the scene with a handgun in his possession. Though police said initially that Fitzgerald had fired the rounds that injured the man and girl, after more interviews and investigation, they said Friday night it was unlikely he was the shooter.
“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.
Hoover police Captain Gregg Rector initially said two individuals were involved in a physical altercation that led to a 21-year-old male shooting an 18-year-old male multiple times. After Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators and crime scene technicians examined evidence and interviewed witnesses, police said they realized their initial determination was wrong.
Though Bradford may still have been involved “in some aspect of the altercation” that led to the shooting, police said they now believe more than two men were involved in the fight and at least one gunman is still at large who could be responsible for shooting the 18-year-old and 12-year-old.
Hoover police officials did not release the name of the officer who fatally shot Bradford, but said he was placed on administrative leave while an internal investigation is conducted.
Jefferson County District Attorney Mike Anderton said earlier Friday evening that the State Bureau of Investigation would take the lead on the probe of the mall shooting because a potential eyewitness is a cousin of Sheriff-Elect Mark Pettway.
The mall was closed as hundreds of people fled the crowded mall Thursday night as shots rang out and 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, which owns the mall. “We are working closely with the Hoover Police Department and are grateful for their swift action to contain the situation.”