Authorities have detained a 20-year-old man they believe fired shots inside an Alabama mall on Thanksgiving, sparking the officer-involved shooting of Emantic Bradford Jr., who police erroneously identified as the gunman.
U.S. Marshal Services arrested Erron Brown in Atlanta, Ga. on Thursday, exactly one week after the deadly incident at Riverchase Galleria Mall, located in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, according to Fox 5 Atlanta. Police said it unfolded when several men got into a physical altercation outside the J.C. Penney and Foot Action stores on the shopping center’s second floor the night of Nov. 22.
The confrontation quickly escalated, with one of the men pulling out a handgun and firing off several rounds. Two people were wounded in the Thanksgiving night brawl, a 12-year-old bystander who is currently recovering from her injuries. and an 18-year-old man, later identified as Brian Wilson.
Nearby officers providing security for Riverchase Galleria heard the gunfire and immediately responded. They fatally shot Bradford, who had been armed.
The 21-year-old Army veteran had a concealed weapon permit for the firearm he was carrying at the time of his death. His family’s attorney Ben Crump, said Bradford was trying to help other people in the mall to safety when he was shot.
“If you’re a good guy with a a gun, the police does not see you as a good guy,” Crump told CNN earlier this week. “They just see you as a criminal and they shoot and kill you.”
Initial statements from the Hoover Police department identified Bradford as the gunman and lauded the responding officers as heroes for their quick response — but they later walked back their remarks.
A day after the shooting, Hoover Police Captain Gregg Rector said investigators believed that more than two people were involved in the initial fight before the shooting, and that “at least one gunman” is still at large. They added that while 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.”
In a follow-up statement earlier this week, Hoover police apologized for misidentifying Bradford as the gunman, but suggested that he shouldn’t have taken out his weapon.
“We can say with certainty Mr. Bradford brandished a gun during the second following the gunshots, which instantly heightened the sense of threat to approaching police officers responding to the chaotic scene,” it reads.
Hours later, Hoover police issued a clarification: “Earlier, we stated that Mr. Bradford ‘brandished’ a gun. To clarify, the word ‘brandish’ was used because Mr. Bradford had a gun in his hand as police officers responded to the active shooter situation between mall patrons.”
The shifting narrative sparked national backlash as well as a call for answers and increasing allegations of racial profiling. Hoover has been a hot spot for protests since the deadly incident, with demonstrators holding up signs as they walk through the mall and gathering outside the mayor’s residence.
Relatives and activists have repeatedly called for the release of video and other evidence in the Thanksgiving altercation, but they have already been turned over to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which is investigating the shooting.
A warrant was issued for Brown’s arrest Wednesday night and he surrendered peacefully to US Marshals at a relative’s house around 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
He was charged with attempted murder for shooting Wilson and taken to the Fulton County jail, where he will processed ahead of extradition proceedings to Alabama. Additional charges are expected.
The Hoover officer working security at the mall when he killed Bradford has not been identified. He was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.