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Alabama police have said at least one suspect of the Black Friday shooting may be at large, admitting that a man killed was unlikely to be the shooter.
Following an altercation at the Riverchase Galleria on Thursday, 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. - a combat engineer in the US Army - was shot dead by cops amid reports of an active shooter in the Alabama shopping mall.
Bradford was reportedly seen fleeing the scene while armed with a handgun after the attack, which saw an 18-year-old boy shot twice and a 12-year-old girl injured by a stray bullet. Both victims survived.
Although Bradford was initially the prime suspect, recent reports from the authorities involved reveal that they could be mistaken.
Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector told AL.com: "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."
Officials added in a statement: "We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not."
As it stands, the police now believe that more than two men were involved in the fight, which broke out at 9.30pm on the evening of Thanksgiving.
Although Bradford may have been involved 'in some aspect of the altercation', they're not entirely sure. Their mistake came to light after Jefferson County Sheriff's Office investigators and crime scene technicians interviewed witnesses and examined evidence taken since the event unfolded.
Although the Hoover officer responsible for the shooting of Bradford has been placed on leave, an internal investigation into the officer-involved portion of the case continues.
Bradford's previous US Army teacher Carl Dean believes could not be capable of shooting a teen in the mall.
He said: "He was a super sweet, funny, kind and good-hearted young man who never had a bad word to say to anyone.
"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."
Although the shopping mall was shut down on the Thursday, it was reopened on the Friday morning. Speaking about the ordeal, Lindsay Kahn, a spokesperson for Brookfield Properties retail group who owns the mall, said: "We are devastated by the incident that happened last night in our shopping centre.
"We are working closely with the Hoover Police Department and are grateful for their swift action to contain the situation."
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