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Questions Loom Over Police Killing Of Man Believed To Be A Gunman In Alabama Mall

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

An update now on a fatal police shooting in Alabama on Thanksgiving night. Authorities arrested the man they believe fired a gun and injured several people inside a crowded mall. Police killed a black man they initially thought was the gunman. Here's Janae Pierre of member station WBHM.

JANAE PIERRE, BYLINE: U.S. marshals arrested 20-year-old Erron Brown near Atlanta. They say he fled after firing the shots during an altercation inside the Riverchase Galleria Mall in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover. Police were at the chaotic scene within moments and saw another man, 21-year-old E.J. Bradford, running away holding a gun. They shot and killed him. For the past week, Hoover officials have released few details and said little publicly, citing an ongoing state investigation. They broke their silence yesterday. Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato offered condolences to the family and promised transparency.

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FRANK BROCATO: Investigations take time. And we're doing everything we can to cooperate with the Alabama law enforcement agency in finding out the truth of what happened.

PIERRE: Brocato was flanked by the police chief and others at the briefing, but they answered no questions from reporters. Alabama activists believe race played a major role in the police killing of Bradford. Hoover City Councilman Derrick Murphy also spoke to the media. He's the council's only black representative and says leaders need to have tough conversations.

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DERRICK MURPHY: We can't stop talking about race even when this is over. We have to keep growing. We have to decide whether we are going to unify or divide, whether we're going to choose the side of hate or choose the side of love.

PIERRE: The unidentified police officer who killed Bradford remains on administrative leave during the investigation. Bradford attended Rock City Church, where Pastor Mike McClure says he's waiting for justice to be served.

MIKE MCCLURE: The incidents at the Galleria have opened a wound that no one imagined. But through transparency, through clarity and through honesty, we can make this a scar that can heal.

PIERRE: McClure will officiate E.J. Bradford Jr.'s funeral service tomorrow in an auditorium that can hold up to 5,000 people. For NPR News, I'm Janae Pierre in Birmingham. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.