Police in Hoover, Alabama, announced today (November 29) that they arrested the person who fired shots inside an Alabama mall, injuring two people. Erron Brown, 20, has been charged with attempted murder.
News of the arrest comes after a week of unanswered questions from officers. Hoover PD repeatedly changed the story of why an off-duty officer shot and killed Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. at the mall on Thanksgiving night (November 22). Bradford’s parents, who say their 21-year-old son was licensed to carry a firearm, are now demanding the truth.
According to police, it started when two men began fighting inside Birmingham’s Riverchase Galleria Mall. One man shot the other twice, which caused chaos as shoppers ran for their lives. According to his family, Bradford stood outside the mall and pulled out his gun in an attempt to protect frightened customers. At that point, Bradford was killed by an off-duty police officer working as mall security.
Since then, police have given contradicting accounts of what happened and why. "While moving toward the shooting scene, one of the officers encountered a suspect brandishing a pistol and shot him," officers said in the initial official statement. According to CNN, "The other man who was shot at the mall and a 12-year-old girl struck by a stray bullet both survived."
On Friday morning (November 23), the officer was celebrated for stopping a gunman and saving lives. However, by Friday night officers had to backtrack. They took to Facebook to post, "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. Investigators now believe that more than two individuals were involved in the initial altercation. This information indicates that there is at least one gunman still at-large."
By Monday morning (November 26), police expressed condolences to Bradford’s family, but insisted the young man “brandished a gun.” However, officials failed to explain why Bradford posed a threat. The family’s lawyer, Benjamin L. Crump, told The New York Times the answer is simple: Mr. Bradford was Black.
"It’s almost as if the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to Black people," Crump said. During an appearance on CNN, Crump also said the cop opened fire on Bradford immediately and didn’t issue any verbal commands. "If you happen to be Black, police see you as a criminal and they shoot and kill you," he said. "That has been shown in Chicago, and now here in Birmingham, Alabama, which is the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement."
Officials now say Bradford’s shooting is under investigation. According to The Times, the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the incident, and the Hoover Police Department has opened an internal investigation.
Hoover’s mayor, Frank Brocato, said in a statement on Monday night that officials were in the process of requesting a meeting with the Bradford family. He said officials were seeking "answers" and pleaded for the public to be patient.
Crump insists the family isn’t interested in waiting patiently. "Show us the video,” the lawyer said. "Your words mean nothing to them."