No matter what your racist uncle or the Trump voter down the street tries to insist while firmly entrenched in their fantasy, the United States remains a dangerous place for members of minority communities. Police have revealed that the black 21-year-old man they shot and killed while responding to a shooting at an Alabama mall on Thanksgiving night likely wasn’t actually the shooter, although they initially identified him as such.
The shooting left two people injured, including an 18-year-old male and a 12-year-old female. The man initially identified by police as the shooter — and subsequently killed — was Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., who has served in the U.S. Army. While Bradford was armed with a handgun — and there’s not been a claim that he had it illegally — police explained that they believe there was someone else involved in an initial altercation along with Bradford and the wounded teenage boy.
At that, though, there doesn’t even appear to be any confirmation that Bradford was ever involved in an “altercation” at all. He was simply a black man running away from the scene of a shooting — along with the many other Riverchase Galleria Mall shoppers — and found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time for a minority community member in the United States.
As local police Captain Gregg Rector put it late Friday:
‘Over the past 20 hours, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators and crime scene technicians have interviewed numerous individuals and examined several critical evidentiary items. New evidence now suggests that while Mr. 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.’
The officer who killed Bradford has been placed on administrative leave; they’d been stationed at the mall as armed security. State authorities have taken over the investigation of the original incident itself, while locals are continuing their look more specifically at the officer-involved portion of the shooting.
It’s hardly the first time that a similar situation has unfolded.
Just recently outside Chicago, a black man named Jemel Roberson was working security late one night at a bar when a disgruntled group of patrons opened fire. He worked to subdue one of those involved, but when local police arrived on the scene, they killed Roberson. They’ve claimed — unsurprisingly — that they asked him to drop his weapon, but he refused. Witnesses say bystanders shouted out that he was security.
Both Roberson and Bradford found themselves targeted while being in the wrong place at the wrong time — and black.
The issue fits into a broader continually forming picture of American gun violence. While there were no casualties besides Bradford in the initial mall shooting that unfolded outside Birmingham, there have been many, many other gun violence incidents in the U.S. culminating in casualties as the months have dragged on.
Altogether since January 1 of this year, 13,119 Americans and counting have lost their lives to gun violence and 25,303 and counting have been injured as of early Saturday.
Those incidents have included high profile atrocities like the mass shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the more recent attack on the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.