The Hoover Police Department in Alabama released a statement on Thursday night claiming that an officer had fatally shot a 21-year-old black man on Thursday night who they said shot at least one person at a mall near Birmingham, sending hundreds of Thanksgiving shoppers fleeing for their lives. Less than 24 hours later, the police said the man actually wasn’t the gunman and the true gunman remained at large.
Officials initially said Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. had fired the rounds that injured an 18-year-old man he was fighting with at the Riverchase Galleria in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover.
“Yesterday, at 9:52 p.m., two males engaged in a physical altercation,” read the statement from the Hoover Police Department, adding:
During the fight, one of the males produced a handgun and shot the other male twice in the torso. Two uniformed Hoover police officers providing security at the mall were in close proximity and heard the gunshots. While moving toward the scene, one of the officers encountered a suspect brandishing a pistol and shot him. That individual, a 21-year-old male from Hueytown, was pronounced deceased on the scene.
NBC News reports:
Although Bradford, of Hueytown, Alabama, fled the scene while armed with a handgun and was shot by a uniformed Hoover police officer, he did not likely fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old and a 12-year-old girl, police said Friday night.
“We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not,” police officials later said in an updated statement.
“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,” Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector told the media.
Police said they realized the error after Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators and crime scene technicians interviewed witnesses and examined evidence over the previous 20 hours.
Bradford, known to family and friends as “E.J.,” had enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school, according to the Hoover Sun.
The Root notes:
Even though police had encountered a dangerous criminal who had just shot someone, a few locals wondered if the officers had to kill him. Some pointed out the countless non-black individuals who had been subdued by the Hoover police.