Gunfire broke out during a fight in the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night as shoppers hunted for bargains. Two Hoover police officers who were patrolling the mall responded. One of them and killed shot Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., who was armed with a handgun.
Authorities initially thought Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., known as E.J., had fired the rounds at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover 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.
The scene was apparently chaotic.
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.
A Hoover police officer who was working security at the mall 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.
Hoover police announced that Bradford had fired the shots that injured the two who were wounded. But then the story changed. HPD later released a statement declaring that while Bradford may have been involved in the fight in some way, he wasn’t the one who fired the shots. No one seems quite sure who the shooter was. He or she seems to have gotten away.
— Hoover Police Dept (@HooverPD) November 26, 2018
Now the investigation has been turned over to state authorities. From NBC News,
Bradford’s family said at an emotional press conference Sunday that they were devastated by his death and by their having learned about it on social media.
“Thanksgiving will never be the same for me. It will never be the same,” Bradford’s mother, April Pipkins, told NBC News. “That’s the day I lost my son. My first born.
The family has hired civil rights attorney Benjamin Cump, who was involved in the Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin cases.
Bradford’s family and their attorney, the high-profile civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, told NBC News on Sunday that authorities should release any relevant surveillance videos from the mall or officer body-cam footage that would shed light on what happened prior to Bradford’s death.
“Show us the video. The video will tell the story,” Crump told NBC News.
As for Bradford’s gun . . .
The family and Crump have said Bradford had a permit to carry a weapon. Alabama does not generally prohibit the open carrying of firearms in a holster or other secured manner in public, although the Riverchase Galleria states on its website that it prohibits firearms at the mall.