A gunman opened fire at an Alabama mall, killing an 8-year-old boy and injuring a girl and two adults.
The shooting began around 3:30 p.m. Friday at Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham. The shooter fled, AL.com reported.
Police identified the dead boy as Royta Giles Jr., 8, who died in a hospital. All of the wounded were taken to hospitals, but officials did not give their names or mention their conditions.
Royta was with her family, mother, stepfather, and two brothers, outside a children’s clothing store, waiting to be allowed in because history limits the number of customers due to coronavirus precautions, her mother told AL.com.
“That’s my baby, my firstborn,” she said of Royta, who was going to be in third grade and wanted to be a rapper. “The person who did this will have to answer for that, whether it’s to whom they pray or if it’s the streets.”
The mother, who asked not to be identified, added: “This one hits home. They took a good one.
The principal at Royta’s school, Jonesboro Elementary, called him a gem and talked about how smart he was. Dr. Anjell Edwards and other staff members tried to convince him to consider becoming a lawyer.
Officers are collecting evidence and reviewing surveillance tapes to try to identify possible suspects, Police Chief Nick Derzis told reporters on Friday night, according to AL.com.
A blood trail leading to a parking platform is leading investigators to believe the suspect left in a car, Derzis said.
The mall has been the scene of other shootings in recent years, AL.com reported.
A police officer who was responding to a 2018 Thanksgiving shooting killed Emantic Fitzgerald “EJ” Bradford Jr. The state later ruled that the shooting was justified. And last June, the police found a man inside a vehicle killed by a gunshot wound.