The father of a black man killed by a police officer during an Alabama mall shooting says his son had a permit to carry a weapon for self-defense, after police mistakenly thought he was the suspect.
Meanwhile, the shooter still remains at large after Emantic ‘EJ’ Bradford Jr., 21, was killed by police who believed he was the gunman who injured two people in the shooting at the Riverchase Galleria mall in Birmingham on Thanksgiving night.
Saturday a group of 200 protesters took to the mall to demand answers from Hoover Police.
On Saturday night, Bradford’s father, Emantic ‘EJ’ Bradford Sr., told the Associated Press his son was ‘a very good kid’ and added that it was hurtful police portrayed his son as the shooter.
‘They were so quick to rush to judgment. I knew my son didn’t do that. People rushed to judgment. They shouldn’t have done that,’ Bradford Sr. said.
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Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., a combat engineer in the US Army, and the son of a Birmingham cop, was shot dead by officers responding to a shooting at a Birmingham mall
Bradford’s father Emantic Bradford Sr. (pictured with mother April Pipkins) says he knew his son wasn’t the shooter and that it was hurtful for people to jump to conclusions after police had shot him dead
Justice for EJ: About 200 protesters gathered at the Riverchase Galleria Mall in Alabama demanding answers from police after a Hoover officer shot and killed Bradford
Elijah King holds a sign during the protest at the Riverchase Galleria mall in Hoover, Saturday. Thursday police were responding to a shooting that wounded an 18-year-old and 12-year-old. Police initially said Bradford was the shooter, but later said he was not the gunman
About 200 people marched through the shopping mall protesting Bradford’s slaying after police admitted they originally believed he was the gunman who shot and wounded an 18-year-old and a 12-year-old who was caught in the crossfire.
The protesters held a moment of silence for Bradford at the spot where he was killed. Bradford’s stepmother Cynthia described him as a respectful young man and said he was the son of a Birmingham police officer.
An 18-year-old was shot twice after getting into a fight with the gunman, and a nearby 12-year-old girl was also injured when struck by a stray bullet.
On Friday evening, Hoover Police Department revealed evidence showing that Bradford may have been involved in an altercation with the 18-year-old, and at least one other individual, ‘he likely did not fire the rounds’ that injured the victims.
Investigators now believe that several people were involved in the original fight, which broke out at 9.30pm on Thursday, and it’s unclear whether Bradford was attempting to break up the altercation, or if he was involved from the beginning.
Video footage from passerby shows the Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr’s body laying on the ground in a pool of blood at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama Thursday night
Police says Bradford was fleeing the scene while brandishing a handgun when he was shot and killed by a uniformed Hoover police officer.
Bradford was pronounced dead at the scene at 10.11pm.
The officer involved has been placed on administrative leave.
Hoover police say the evidence, which came from witness statements and crime scene technicians, means that the real gunman is still at-large. A weapon was later recovered from inside the mall’s Santa’s Village.
Footage taken from inside the mall showed Bradford’s body lying in a pool of blood moments after he was shot dead by police.
The video, filmed from within the Footaction store, also captured people frantically shouting for customers to leave the premises where Bradford’s body was positioned on its side.
‘Everybody out!’ one person can be heard yelling.
A weapon was later recovered from inside the mall’s Santa’s Village
Bradford was a graduate of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School in Birmingham
Another shouts: ‘Let’s go! Everybody out of the store.’
Bradford’s devastated stepmother, Cynthia Kenniebrew Bradford, hopes to clear her son’s name, writing that she was ‘sick of all the lies going around.’
‘To loose(sic) a mom and dad was a terrible thang(sic), but to loose a innocent child is beyond words. My heart is so heavy right now. RIP EJ.’
Bradford, known to friends and family as E.J., was a graduate of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School in Birmingham and enlisted in the U.S. Army, his old teacher Carl Dean told the Hoover Sun.
Dean said he didn’t believe that Bradford was capable of shooting a teen in the mall.
‘He was a super sweet, funny, kind and goodhearted young man who never had a bad word to say to anyone’ Dean said. ‘When I saw this morning that he was allegedly involved in causing the tragedy at the mall last night, I was shocked and in disbelief as well as heartbroken that this young man is no longer with us.’
Bradford’s stepmother, Cynthia Kenniebrew Bradford, shared this family photo in a post where she wrote how she was devastated to lose her son
Mother April Pipkins posted on her Facebook page an image of herself with the victim Friday
Police on Friday revealed new evidence suggesting ‘he likely did not fire the rounds’ that injured the victims
Cops say a fight broke out between multiple people, which escalated quickly.
Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector said: ‘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 shooting 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 dead on the scene.’
Bradford, 21, (left and right) is reported to have enlisted in the US Army after school and was described by an old teacher as ‘super sweet, funny, kind and goodhearted’
His stepmother said she wanted to clear his name and was ‘sick of all the lies going around’
Social media users criticized the way the incident was initially handled by police
A friend said Bradford didn’t have a ‘bad trait about him’ and was ‘murdered wrongly’
Both victims were taken to hospitals and are expected to survive. The 12-year-old girl, named by family as Molly Davis, was shot once and was reported to be ‘alert’ and ‘talking’ by WBRC Friday afternoon.
Julie Moore Bennett, the mother of Molly, posted on social media that her daughter – who was shopping with family – didn’t immediately realize the pain in her back was from a bullet.
‘She was hurting a lot, but very brave and positive as always,’ the Washington Post reports she wrote after visiting her in hospital.
The 18-year-old has not been named.
By 6am the mall back reopened for Black Friday shopping.
The shooting sparked horror and panic among the crowds of bargain hunters who had flocked to the mall after Thanksgiving dinner to snap up discounts.
Videos posted to social media showed shoppers fleeing in terror as shots rang out at the mall following a fight between a young gunman and a teenage boy
An 18-year-old was taken to hospital in a ‘serious’ condition while a 12-year-old girl had to have emergency surgery
An image posted to Twitter in the aftermath of the shooting
They took to social media in confusion to describe hearing shots in the mall. It was unclear at first if it was an intended mass shooter.
Photos and videos of the mass panic caused by the shooting were shared on social media.
One Twitter user said: ‘I’m in the parking lot of the Riverchase Galleria in Alabama where a shooting just happened.
‘I’m so shaky right now I’m sorry if I don’t make any sense. The suspect is dead. My prayers go out to those injured.’
Mall staff later tweeted: ‘We are devastated by the incident that happened tonight in our shopping center.
‘We are working closely with the Hoover Police Department and are grateful for their swift action to contain the situation.
‘While there is no current danger to our community, the shopping center will remain closed until further notice.’
Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said on Thursday night: ‘They heard the gunfire, they engaged the subject and they took out the threat.’