A gunman opened fire in an Alabama shopping mall, killing an 8-year-old boy and injuring a girl and two adults.
The shooting started around 3:30 p.m. Friday at Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham. The shooter reportedly fled.
Police identified the dead boy as 8-year-old Royta Giles Jr., who died at a hospital. The injured were all taken to hospitals, but officials didn’t give their names or list their conditions.
Royta was with his family — mother, stepfather and two siblings — outside a children’s clothing store, waiting to be allowed in because the story limits the number of customers because of coronavirus precautions, his 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 is going to have to answer for that whether it is to whoever they pray to 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 of Royta’s school, Jonesboro Elementary, called him a jewel 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 late Friday, according to AL.com.
A trail of blood leading to a parking deck is leading investigators to believe the suspect left in a car, Derzis said.
The shopping mall has been the scene of other shootings in the past few years, AL.com reported.
A police officer who was responding to a shooting on Thanksgiving in 2018 killed Emantic Fitzgerald “EJ” Bradford Jr. The state later ruled the shooting was justified. And last June, police found a man inside a vehicle dead from a gunshot wound.