Police Suggest Slain Alabama Mall Guard Shouldn't Have Had Gun

Police responding to a shooting in an Alabama mall allegedly shot and killed an armed security guard.
Police responding to a shooting in an Alabama mall allegedly shot and killed an armed security guard. The actual shooter, who killed one person, escaped the scene.wbhm.com

On Thanksgiving night, a shooting erupted in an Alabama mall. In the melee, a 12-year-old girl was injured and police killed an armed security guard.

Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr., 21, was working security at the The Riverchase Galleria, Alabama’s largest mall, on Thanksgiving night when two men began to fight on the shopping center’s second floor around 10 p.m.

WBHM reports that he scuffle escalated, and one of the men involved in the fight shot the other, who was taken to an area hospital in serious condition. A 12-year-old girl was struck with a stray round as a result of the altercation, according to reports from ABC13.

Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was fatally shot by the police on Thursday at a mall in Alabama.
Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was fatally shot by the police on Thursday at a mall in Alabama.Facebook

When police responded, they fired upon Bradford, whom they believed was the perpetrator. Bradford, who left the Army to care for his father as he undergoes treatment for cancer, died on the scene. The officer who shot Bradford has since been placed on administrative leave. His name has not been released.

The police department has issued multiple accounts of the events and Bradford's shooting, initially calling the Hoover officer a hero for quickly putting down the suspected shooter. But as more information emerged, it became apparent the actual shooter was still at large, and the police officer had killed the wrong man, NPR reports.

The Hoover PD acknowledged they had killed the wrong individual the following day, indicating the suspect was still at large. The department expressed regret, and indicated that Bradford, "was fleeing the shooting scene while brandishing a handgun" when an officer shot him in a corridor outside the JC Penney store, as told by The Washington Post.

The Riverchase Galleria, Alabama's largest mall, after the shooting.
The Riverchase Galleria, Alabama's largest mall, after the shooting.wbhm.com

In release containing the Hoover PD’s latest version of events states, “We can say with certainty Mr. Bradford brandished a gun during the seconds following the gunshots, which instantly heightened the sense of threat to approaching officers responding to the chaotic scene.”

But Bradford was not the only one with a gun drawn after the shots rang out. Reports from AL.com indicate that multiple patrons drew their arms in an attempt to defend themselves, and others, from the unknown shooter.

It isn't clear from the reports whether or not Bradford was wearing a security guard uniform of some kind or if he was carrying as part of his job or simply was an armed concealed carrier.

The story has sparked an outrage across the nation and Bradford's family has hired noted civil rights attorney, Ben Crump.

"We don't trust the police department because they've already lied to them. They released his picture all over the world saying he was the shooter and the police officer was a hero," Crump said in this story from abc13.com.

Crump said in the story that several witnesses have reached out to the family saying the officer shot Bradford "within milliseconds," without saying a word to him.

"It doesn't matter if you're a good guy with a gun, if you're black the police shoot and kill you and ask questions later," Crump said in the story.

With more and more people concealed carrying in an effort to not be victims, police will likely come upon more "good guys with a gun." Training needs a major paradigm shift to prevent tragedies like these. Simply drawing a gun in defense of yourself or others should not mean police fire you upon automatically—especially if you’re not currently holding the firearm.

Hopefully the events will become clear once video from the scene is released, and police, and the rest of the country, can learn from this terrible event.

ABC 13 reports "body camera video and other available video was immediately turned over to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department as part of the investigation.

"Now, all evidence has been handed over to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to lead the investigation. Release of any video will be done as ALEA deems appropriate during the investigation."