Shooting at Alabama mall leaves an 8-year-old dead, 3 others injured
An 8-year-old boy was killed and three other people were injured on Friday afternoon after a shooting at an Alabama shopping mall.
Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said shots were fired near the food court at the Riverchase Galleria in suburban Birmingham around 3:15 p.m.
“We don’t know at this point what led to the shooting or how many gunmen were involved,” police said in a statement shortly after the shooting.
Bessemer City School system identified the 8-year-old victim as Royta Giles Jr., who was entering the third grade this fall.
He was described as “a smart child, who was a jewel, with big dreams of someday entering the music industry.”
“He was bright, articulate, and very convincing. We even tried to convince him to become a lawyer,” former assistant principal Van James said in a statement.
The conditions of the other injured victims — an adult male, an adult female and a juvenile female — were unknown, according to a police statement issued late Friday.
Investigators are working to interview victims and witnesses and collect evidence.
Annalisa Pope, an employee at the Hollister store inside the mall, told WBMA-TV that she heard six to seven shots that “sounded like they were coming from every direction.”
“It wasn’t just one or two,” Pope said. “That’s what got me off guard. They (the shots) just kept going.
“It felt so close,” she added. “It was so surreal. It doesn’t even feel real right now. You wouldn’t expect something like that to happen out of nowhere on a normal, Friday afternoon.”
The Riverchase Galleria said in a statement that the building was evacuated immediately after the shooting and will remain closed on July 4.
“We are heartbroken by the tragic, senseless incident that took place in our shopping center this afternoon,” the statement reads.
The shopping center was site of a shooting in 2018 when police fatally shot a 21-year-old Black man named Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr. after mistaking him for the gunman in an earlier shooting at the mall.
The officer, who did not face charges, fired on Bradford just seconds after two previous gunshots rang out at the mall. The report from Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall states that Bradford “was running toward the initial shooter and victim with a firearm visibly in hand.”
Police initially said that Bradford was the gunman who shot two other people at the mall, but later said he “likely did not fire the rounds” that hit them. Another man was arrested and charged with attempted murder for that shooting.