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Police say deceased man’s gun ‘heightened’ threat in Alabama mall shooting; shooter at large

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HOOVER, Ala. — As the family of Emantic Bradford Jr. continues to demand answers from Hoover police, the department Monday issued another correction of an earlier report — this time, that Bradford had “brandished” a gun when a policeman killed him at an Alabama mall.

“Earlier, we stated that Mr. Bradford ‘brandished’ a gun,” the statement posted to Facebook said. “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.”

Brandish typically means to wave a weapon in a threatening manner. The statement provided no additional details on how Bradford was holding the gun.

Hoover police have said that, in the name of transparency, they will issue updates on the case every Monday morning. Monday’s Facebook post did not provide much else in the way of new information, despite Bradford’s family and civil rights attorney Ben Crump leveling a series of accusations against the department.

Among them: The officer who killed the 21-year-old never issued a warning before opening fire on Bradford, who had a concealed weapon permit, Crump said.

The shooter remains at large, the Hoover police statement said, and all pertinent departments are cooperating with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which is leading the investigation.

The shooter has not been identified, nor has the officer who killed Bradford. The officer is on administrative leave during an investigation, police previously said.

“We all want answers and we believe that with patience and focus, the truth will be firmly established,” the Monday police statement said.

Rush to judgment?

A Hoover police officer working mall security in the Birmingham suburb’s Riverchase Galleria fatally shot Bradford on Thanksgiving night. Police initially identified Bradford as a gunman who had shot a 12-year-old and an 18-year-old and said an officer killed him as he fled the scene.

Hoover police later changed the story, saying witnesses and forensic tests indicated that while Bradford might have been involved in an altercation at the mall, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the victims.

Monday morning’s update did nothing to clarify that clarification, and it’s still unclear if Bradford was involved in any altercation before he was shot. Hoover police have referred CNN’s questions to ALEA.

Crump said that Bradford, who was known to friends and family as EJ, was trying to help victims to safety when he was shot. After the shooting, police provided the young man with no medical assistance, the attorney said.

Photos and videos from the scene show a man on the ground outside a shoe store on an upper floor, bleeding heavily onto the mall’s cream tile floor. Several police are on the scene, including officers who appear to handcuff a man nearby.

“He saw a black man with a gun and he made his determination that he must be a criminal,” Crump said Sunday, flanked by about two dozen of Bradford’s relatives. “They concluded their investigation while EJ was (lying) on the mall floor, bleeding out, dying. … There’s a murderer on the loose largely because police rushed to judgment.”

‘He was not a killer’

Bradford’s parents knew their son wasn’t the shooter, Crump said. “They knew it wasn’t true even before the police retracted their statement,” the attorney said.

Bradford’s father, who spent 25 years as a correctional officer and is battling cancer, has blasted the Hoover Police Department, saying no one has reached out to him with details of his son’s death. He is demanding investigators immediately release all video of the incident.

In a CNN interview Monday, his mother, April Pipkins, said that because her son was shot in the face, she’s not sure if she will ever be able to see his remains. It’s not clear if the family can hold an open-casket funeral, she said.

“My Thanksgiving will never be the same. I will never be able to see my son’s face again or to look into his eyes or to hear him say, ‘Mom, I love you,’ ” she said. “Not even knowing if I’ll be able to have an open casket, to see him again. I am just at a loss of words right now.”

Bradford had no criminal record, Crump said. He was a caretaker to his father, worked full time and helped his mother financially.

“My son was a loving — very loving — young man. He would give any of you the shirt off his back,” Pipkins told reporters Sunday. “He loved people, period. He was not a killer.”

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