Army Says Man Shot By Cops In Mall Was Never A Soldier
Hoover, AL – A U.S. Army spokesperson has said that Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. never completed advanced individual training, which means he never served as a soldier in the army.
Bradford, 21, was fatally shot by police Thursday night while fleeing a shooting scene while "brandishing a handgun," according to police. After Hoover Police Department initially announced that Bradford was a gunman who shot an 18-year-old and 12-year-old victim, they later said the forensic evidence showed that Bradford likely did not shoot the 18-year-old.
They added that Bradford was likely involved in the altercation which led to the shooting, but did not provide any more details.
Media reports then stated that Bradford was a combat engineer in the U.S. Army, which is what his Facebook page lists as his occupation.
After the U.S. Army stated that he was never a soldier because he didn't complete AIT, an attorney for Bradford's family said that Bradford had received an honorable discharge, according to The Washington Post.
However, The New York Times says that he had received a general discharge, which is not an honorable discharge.
According to Fort Hood Sentinel, a general discharge could be “Under Honorable Conditions" if it was only for minor misconduct. This is not an honorable discharge.
A general discharge could also be “Under Other than Honorable Conditions" for major misconduct.
The initial shooting began just before 10 p.m., when an unidentified armed man began fighting with an 18-year-old male on the second level of the Riverchase Galleria mall, near JCPenney and Footaction, CNN reported.
It was unclear what led up to the physical altercation, which ended abruptly when the gunman shot the younger man twice in the torso.
A 12-year-old girl standing nearby was also hit by one of the bullets.
“We do not believe at this point the 18-year-old was armed,” Hoover Police Captain Gregg Rector told CNN at the time.
The department “already had multiple officers working at the mall for traffic control and police presence inside,” Capt. Rector told FOX News.
Bradford was fleeing the scene with a handgun when he was confronted by two uniformed Hoover police officers, The Birmingham News reported.
“One of our officers did engage that individual and shot him,” Hoover Police Chief Nick Dezris said. “He was dead on the scene.”
Both shooting victims were rushed to a local hospital, CNN reported.
The 12-year-old girl underwent surgery, and was listed in stable condition as of Friday morning.
“[She] does not have life-threatening injuries,” Capt. Rector said.
The 18-year-old man was listed in serious condition, according to police.
After the investigation started, it was determined that Bradford hadn't shot the male victim.
"Over the past 20 hours, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators and crime scene technicians have interviewed numerous individuals and examined several critical evidentiary items," the department said. "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."
"This information indicates that there is at least one gunman still at-large, who could be responsible for the shooting of the 18-year-old male and 12-year-old female," the department said. "We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not."
The mall was open late for customers who wanted to get an early start on their Black Friday shopping.
Terrified customers screamed and ran for cover as the gunfire broke out, and store employees rushed to get everyone to safety.
“People started screaming and going crazy just to get a way from it, and then cops ran by us with their guns drawn,” witness Debby Woods told WPEC.
Other shoppers drew their own concealed weapons, The Birmingham News reported.
“I just felt a rumbling,” Ryan Spann told WBMA. “Before we knew it, just an entire wave of people – I mean full sprint – I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Everyone was just yelling to run,” Spann said. “It was just pure pandemonium.”
“They stuffed us in supply closets and locked the doors,” shopper Lexie Joyner said of the store employees, according to CNN. “They seemed prepared.”
After about 10 minutes, store employees helped Joyner and several others to escape the building through an emergency exit.
Out in the parking lot, tires squealed as people sped away from the gunfire, a witness told The Birmingham News.
Hoover police quickly secured a perimeter and methodically evacuated shoppers from the building.
“We have a plan and our plan works,” Chief Dezris told The Birmingham News.
The officer who shot Bradford has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the officer-involved shooting investigation, which is being handled by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.