UPDATE: Police now say that the man shot by officers was not the same person who shot the 12-year-old girl. Police say he was shot while brandishing a weapon and fleeing the scene, but it’s unclear what his role in the altercation was. This article has been revised to reflect the latest information.
Hoover, AL – Hoover Police Department has announced that the man fatally shot by officers in the Riverchase Galleria mall was not the same man who shot an 18-year-old male victim.
21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was fatally shot by police after fleeing the area of the shooting while “brandishing a handgun,” according to the department.
“Over the past 20 hours, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators and crime scene technicians have interviewed numerous individuals and examined several critical evidentiary items,” the department said. “New evidence now suggests that while Mr. 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 chaotic incident began just before 10 p.m., when an unidentified armed man began fighting with an 18-year-old male on the second level of the Riverchase Galleria mall, near JCPenney and Footaction, CNN reported.
It was unclear what led up to the physical altercation, which ended abruptly when the gunman shot the younger man twice in the torso.
A 12-year-old girl standing nearby was also hit by one of the bullets.
“We do not believe at this point the 18-year-old was armed,” Hoover Police Captain Gregg Rector told CNN at the time.
The department “already had multiple officers working at the mall for traffic control and police presence inside,” Capt. Rector told FOX News.
Bradford was fleeing the scene with a handgun when he was confronted by two uniformed Hoover police officers, The Birmingham News reported.
“One of our officers did engage that individual and shot him,” Hoover Police Chief Nick Dezris said. “He was dead on the scene.”
Both shooting victims were rushed to a local hospital, CNN reported.
The 12-year-old girl underwent surgery, and was listed in stable condition as of Friday morning.
“[She] does not have life-threatening injuries,” Capt. Rector said.
The 18-year-old man was listed in serious condition, according to police.
After the investigation started, it was determined that Bradford hadn’t shot the male victim.
“This information indicates that there is at least one gunman still at-large, who could be responsible for the shooting of the 18-year-old male and 12-year-old female,” the department said. “We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not.”
The mall was open late for customers who wanted to get an early start on their Black Friday shopping.
Terrified customers screamed and ran for cover as the gunfire broke out, and store employees rushed to get everyone to safety.
“People started screaming and going crazy just to get a way from it, and then cops ran by us with their guns drawn,” witness Debby Woods told WPEC.
Other shoppers drew their own concealed weapons, The Birmingham News reported.
“I just felt a rumbling,” Ryan Spann told WBMA. “Before we knew it, just an entire wave of people – I mean full sprint – I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Everyone was just yelling to run,” Spann said. “It was just pure pandemonium.”
“They stuffed us in supply closets and locked the doors,” shopper Lexie Joyner said of the store employees, according to CNN. “They seemed prepared.”
After about 10 minutes, store employees helped Joyner and several others to escape the building through an emergency exit.
Out in the parking lot, tires squealed as people sped away from the gunfire, a witness told The Birmingham News.
Hoover police quickly secured a perimeter and methodically evacuated shoppers from the building.
“We have a plan and our plan works,” Chief Dezris told The Birmingham News.
The officer who shot Bradford has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the officer-involved shooting investigation, which is being handled by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Bradford was identified as the son of a Birmingham police officer, and a combat engineer in the U.S. Army, according to Daily Mail.