An 8-year-old boy shot to death at a suburban shopping mall in Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday has been identified as Royta Giles Jr., school officials said.
Royta was a rising third grader at Jonesboro Elementary School, Bessemer City Schools said in a statement on Saturday. The school’s principal, Anjell Edwards, described Royta as “a smart child, who was a jewel, with big dreams of someday entering the music industry,” according to the statement.
“He was bright, articulate, and very convincing. We even tried to convince him to become a lawyer,” former assistant principal Van James said in the statement.
The shooting occurred Friday afternoon at the Riverchase Galleria shopping mall in Hoover, a Birmingham suburb. The Hoover Police Department said Royta died shortly after being taken to Children’s of Alabama Hospital.
“Breaking: sadly, an eight year old child was killed earlier today at the Galleria. (We) will work tirelessly to bring the responsible individuals to justice. The investigation continues,” the Hoover Police Department tweeted.
Three other victims, a man, a woman and a girl, were taken to local hospitals after the shooting and their condition remains unknown, Hoover police Lt. Keith Czeskleba said.
Police responded after receiving multiple calls of shots fired near the food court around 3:18 p.m., the lieutenant said.
Police don’t know what led up to the incident or how many shooters are involved, Czeskleba said. Investigators are collecting physical evidence and interviewing witnesses. The mall was evacuated after the shooting, Czeskleba said.
“We are heartbroken by the tragic, senseless incident that took place in our shopping center this afternoon,” according to a statement posted on the mall’s Facebook page.
The mall will be closed Saturday, according to the statement.
CNN’s Nicole Chavez and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.