HOOVER, Alabama (AP/WNCN) — The Hoover Police Department says one person died and three others were injured a shooting at the Riverchase Galleria mall Friday afternoon.
Hoover police say that an 8-year-old boy had died after being shot. The boy was later identified as Royta Giles Jr. by the child’s family.
Three others — a girl and two adults — were injured and transported to local hospitals for treatment. All of their conditions at this time are unknown.
Bessemer City Schools has released a statement following the death of Giles. The boy was preparing to enter the third grade in the fall at Jonesboro Elementary School.
“Our hearts are simply broken at the tragic loss of Royta. We are here for the family in every way possible, and we ask that everyone lifts the mother, family, and our school community in your prayers. This is tough,” the school system said in a statement.
Police did not give a motive for the shooting. Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said officers are working promising leads, but did not say if they had identified suspects.
“This is certainly a tragic situation when you have an innocent child who gets caught in the middle of an altercation between others,” Derzis said.
Multiple shots were reported near the food court inside the mall around 3:20 p.m., police said.
“We don’t know at this point what led to the shooting or how many gunmen were involved,” Police Capt. Gregg Rector said in an earlier news release.
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said he visited with the boy’s parents Friday evening.
“This was just a very senseless tragedy and of course they are devastated by this,” Brocato said. He asked residents in the city to pray for the family.
The mall was evacuated after the shooting
Annalisa Pope, who works at Hollister in the mall, told WBMA-TV in a telephone interview that she heard six to seven shots fired.
“It wasn’t just one or two,” she said. “That’s what got me off guard. They (the shots) just kept going.”
She said the gunshots “sounded like they were coming from every direction.”
Hoover police asked anyone was in the mall who witnessed the shooting to call authorities.
“It felt so close,” she said. “It was so surreal. It doesn’t even feel real right now. You wouldn’t expect something like that to happen out of nowhere on a normal, Friday afternoon.”
The mall in suburban Birmingham was the site of a 2018 police shooting where an officer fatally shot a Black man with a gun after mistaking him for the gunman in an earlier shooting at the mall.
The shooting of 21-year-old Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. prompted a series of protests at the mall. The Alabama attorney general’s office cleared the officer, saying he acted “reasonably under the circumstances” in the encounter that spanned approximately five seconds.
— WIAT-TV contributed to this report
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