Po­lice: Man shot dead by of­fi­cer at mall not shooter

Hartford Courant (Sunday) - - World & Nation - As­so­ci­ated Press

HOOVER, Ala. — Pro­test­ers on Sa t u rd ay marched through an Alabama shop­ping mall where po­lice killed a black man they later ac­knowl­edged was not the trig­ger­man in a Thanks­giv­ing night shoot­ing that wounded two peo­ple.

An of­fi­cer shot and killed 2 1-ye a r- o l d Eman­tic Fitzger­ald Brad­ford Jr. of Huey­town while re­spond­ing to the Thurs­day mall shoot­ing. Po­lice said Brad­ford was flee­ing the scene with a weapon.

Hoover Po­lice ini­tially told re­porters Brad­ford had shot a teen at the mall, but later re­tracted the state­ment.

“We knew that was false,” said step­mother Cyn­thia Brad­ford when she heard po­lice were blam­ing him for the shoot­ing.

She de­scribed her step­son, who went by E.J., as a re­spect­ful young man who is the son of a Birm­ing­ham po­lice depart­ment of­fi­cer.

Hoover Po­lice Capt. Gregg Rec­tor said in­ves­ti­ga­tors now be­lieve that more than two peo­ple were in­volved in the ini­tial fight ahead of the shoot­ing, and that “at least one gun­man” is still at large who could be re­spon­si­ble.

Rec­tor said po­lice re­gret that their ini­tial state­ment about Brad­ford was not ac­cu­rate.

More than 200 demon­stra­tors, in­clud­ing sev­eral rel­a­tives, chanted “E.J.” and “no jus­tice, no peace” as they marched past Christ­mas shop­pers at the mall. They held a mo­ment of si­lence at the spot out­side a shoe store where Brad­ford was killed.

“They should have never have killed him,” Emani Smith, 7, Brad­ford's half­sis­ter said, while other fam­ily mem­bers cried.

Fam­ily mem­bers de­scribed their hor­ror of find­ing out from so­cial me­dia that Brad­ford was dead. Video cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia of Brad­ford ly­ing in a pool of blood on the mall floor.

The in­ci­dent be­gan Thanks­giv­ing night with a fight and shoot­ing in sub­ur­ban Birm­ing­ham at the River­chase Gal­le­ria, a mall crowded with Black Fri­day bar­gain hunters.

An 18-year-old was shot twice and a 12-year-old by­stander was shot in the back.

Po­lice said while 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.” The Alabama Law En­force­ment Agency is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent since it is an of­fi­cer-in­volved shoot­ing.

The Hoover Po­lice Depart­ment is con­duct­ing its own in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The of­fi­cer who shot Brad­ford was placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave while au­thor­i­ties in­ves­ti­gate the shoot­ing. The of­fi­cer's name was not re­leased pub­licly. The of­fi­cers were not hurt.

Brad­ford is shown in pho­tos on Face­book in an Army uni­form, and he de- scribed him­self as a com­bat en­gi­neer. A spokesman for the Army, how­ever, told The Wash­ing­ton Post that he “never com­pleted ad­vanced in­di­vid­ual train­ing,” and so did not serve.

Video posted on so­cial me­dia by shop­pers showed a chaotic scene as shop­pers fled the mall, which closed for the re­main­der of Thurs­day night.

A wit­ness, Lexi Joiner, told Al.com she was shop­ping with her mother when the gun­fire started. Joiner said she heard six or seven shots and was or­dered, along with some other shop­pers, into a sup­ply closet for cover.

“It was ter­ri­fy­ing,” Joiner said.

A woman who de­scribed her­self as the mother of the in­jured 12-year-old posted on so­cial me­dia that the girl was on a Black Fri­day shop­ping trip with other fam­ily mem­bers when the shoot­ing hap­pened, and didn't re­al­ize that the pain in her back was from a bul­let.

“She was hurt­ing a lot, but very brave and pos­i­tive as al­ways,” the mother wrote af­ter see­ing the girl when she ar­rived at a hos­pi­tal.

KIM CHANDLER/AP

More than 200 demon­stra­tors chanted as they marched Satur­day at the River­chase Gal­le­ria mall in Hoover, Ala.

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