A fatal shooting Thanksgiving Day at a mall in Alabama has sparked a call for a national dialogue about police and how they respond to “active shooter” calls.
“There are more than 17 million gun owners in the United States who are licensed to carry concealed,” said Alan M. Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation.
“In addition, there are untold numbers of legally armed citizens in states where permits or licenses are not required for either concealed or open carry. In an active shooter incident, these citizens are well within their rights to act in self-defense or in defense of others, even when it means they draw a defensive sidearm but don’t immediately open fire.”
Police were called on Thanksgiving to the Riverchase Balleria Mall in Hoover, Alabama, on reports of an active shooter there.
SAF reported officers apparently mistook Emantic F. Bradford Jr., 21, as the suspected shooter and shot him.
However, his family said Bradford had a carry permit and likely had drawn his pistol in self-defense.
Newsweek reported he was shot by police in the back of the head, the back of his neck and the right side of his back.
The coroner listed homicide as the cause of death.
A lawyer for the family, Ben Crump, told the magazine Bradford was moving away from police when he was hit.
While police initially said two men were fighting and the argument led to one man shooting the other. Later they changed their story and identified Bradford as the deceased but said he probably was not the gunman in the altercation.
On Facebook, Hoover police said: “Investigators now believe that more than two individuals were involved in the initial altercation. This information indicates that there is at least one gunman still at-large, who could be responsible for the shooting of the 18-year-old male and 12-year-old female.”
They claimed Bradford “brandished a gun during the seconds following the gunshots, which instantly heightened the sense of threat to approaching police officers responding to the chaotic scene.”
But they later said he simply had a gun in his hand.
Eventually, Erron Brown, 20, was arrested for the mall shootings.
SAF said that active shooters more common, there needs to be a dialogue about when and how police officers responding to the scene shoot and kill someone.
“Armed citizens have interrupted would-be mass shooters,” Gottlieb said, “sometimes fatally shooting the perpetrator before police arrive. This happened at an Oklahoma City restaurant, a Walmart in Washington State, and at a McDonald’s restaurant in Birmingham in October.
“The likelihood that police may encounter a good guy citizen acting to defend himself or others has increased exponentially in recent years with the expansion of concealed carry,” he said. “We need to address the potential for mistaken identity fatalities so that good guys don’t shoot one another while the bad guys get away. This dialogue should include law enforcement and commercial firearms instructors, open and concealed carry advocates and experts on the use of lethal force. We are working with Gun Talk Media on this effort.”
Tom Greshman, host of Gun Talk Media, added: “Callers to my radio show over the last 20 years want to do this right. Both citizens who carry and conscientious police officers know this is a situation fraught with peril and all parties need to work together for solutions. The police we work with know this is a very real problem.”