Alabama Mall Shooting 01
Man killed by police was shot from behind
01:14 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

An armed 21-year-old man killed by an officer at a mall in Alabama on Thanksgiving night “likely did not fire” the shots that wounded two people and sent terrified shoppers running for cover, police said Friday.

Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was shot to death by a police officer.

Authorities initially thought Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., known as E.J., had fired the rounds at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover that left an 18-year-old and a 12-year-old hospitalized, Hoover police spokesman Capt. Gregg Rector said in a statement.

At first, police said Bradford opened fire after an altercation with the 18-year-old and an officer fatally shot him as he fled the scene.

But late Friday, police changed that story, saying that while Bradford was involved in “some aspect of the altercation” and was armed with a handgun, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the two others.

“We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not,” Rector said.

Police: Altercation involved more people

The new information emerged after Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators and crime scene experts spoke to witnesses and examined evidence, police said.

“Investigators now believe that more than two individuals were involved in the initial altercation,” Rector said. “This information indicates that there is at least one gunman still at large.”

Police provided no name or description of the gunman at large.

The officer involved in the shooting is on administrative leave pending an investigation, police said.

Bradford’s family said his death left them shocked and devastated.

“EJ was a devoted son and brother, who dedicated his life to serving his country and always doing the right thing. As we continue to grieve, rest assured, that we are working diligently with our legal team to determine exactly what happened and why this police officer killed our son. We will never forget EJ, and ask for your continued prayers during this incredibly difficult time.”

Members of the Bradford family have retained civil rights attorney Benjamin L. Crump, according to a release from the law firm.

The Jefferson County district attorney informed Hoover police Friday that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency will take over the lead role in the shooting investigation from the county sheriff’s office, Rector said.

Hoover police will assist and cooperate in that inquiry, and will conduct its won internal investigation.

That police would so quickly rescind their account is unusual, CNN senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes said Saturday. But because new information pointed to a gunman on the loose, they had to do so for the public’s sake, he said.

The initial report, Fuentes said, reflects the “pressure on police and authorities when there’s an officer-involved shooting to get out as much information as quickly as they can, even if it involves some kind of speculation or they’re jumping to a conclusion.”

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