By MATT STEVENS
A gunman who shot another man during a fight at an Alabama mall late Thursday as thousands got an early start on their holiday shopping was fatally shot by the police, the authorities said.
The gunfire, which sent shoppers fleeing for cover into stores and stockrooms, also injured a 12-year-old girl, a police captain said at a news conference early Friday. The girl was said to be conscious, and the police said her injuries were not life-threatening.
The episode rattled the crowded Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama, a city about 14 miles south of Birmingham. Video posted on Twitter showed people sprinting down the mall's corridor in a panicked stampede.
Debby Woods, one of thousands of shoppers inside the mall, said she was buying jewelry at a kiosk when she heard one "bang" — and then two more.
"It was terrifying," she told WBRC. "Everybody started screaming." Woods said she ran for the exit as police officers sprinted toward the gunfire.
Hoover police officers responded to a call about gunshots being fired outside the Footaction store on the mall's second level just before 10 p.m., Capt. Gregg Rector of the Hoover Police Department said.
Two men had gotten into what Rector called a "physical confrontation." One of the men fired at the other, and the victim, an 18-year-old man, was struck at least once. The 18-year-old, whose name, like the others, was not released, was taken to a hospital in serious condition, Rector said.
The man who fired was confronted by officers as he tried to flee, Rector said, and a Hoover police officer fatally shot him. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department is investigating.
Asked who had shot the 12-year-old girl, Rector said it was "too early in the investigation" to know.
"We believe last we heard that she was alert, conscious and talking," he said.
He said he was unaware of any other injuries to shoppers or police officers.
"It's a sad day in Hoover," Chief Nicholas Derzis of the Hoover Police Department said.
The Riverchase Galleria, whose website boasts that it is "the largest enclosed shopping center in Alabama," had advertised special hours for the night; it had been scheduled to be open from 6 p.m. to midnight.
Thursday was not the first time the Riverchase Galleria had dealt with disruption during some of the busiest shopping hours of the year. Last Thanksgiving, the police received reports of shots being fired outside the mall, which they said they were unable to confirm. Still, they had to return later that evening to break up a fight, which they eventually determined was "not related to post-Thanksgiving sales."
Officials noted that there had been extra officers at the mall Thursday night as a precaution. Mayor Frank Brocato praised the police for their quick action, suggesting they may have saved others from injury.
"You just don't bring guns into a crowded mall," he said.
Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢
Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢