An 8-year-old boy was killed and three others were hospitalized in a shooting Friday that rocked a suburban mall in Birmingham, Alabama. The boy died after being taken to Children’s of Alabama Hospital for treatment of a gunshot to the head.
The other victims were taken to other nearby hospitals and their condition is unknown.
“[We] will work tirelessly to bring the responsible individuals to justice. The investigation continues,” the Hoover Police Department said in a statement.
Police responded to the shooting that happened near the food court of Riverchase Galleria in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover at around 3 p.m. Officials are in the early stages of the investigation and have yet to disclose the numbers of shooters and a motive.
“We are heartbroken by the tragic, senseless incident that took place in our shopping center this afternoon,” Riverchase Galleria said in a statement. “Riverchase Galleria was evacuated immediately and will remain closed while the Hoover Police Department conducts their investigation.”
The boy and his family – he was accompanied by his mother, stepfather and two younger siblings – had been waiting in line for the Children’s Place.
“We heard the gunshots and I grabbed them and we hit the ground,” the mother told AL.com. “When we all got up, he was the only one who didn’t get up.”
Family members described the boys as “energetic and smiling” while faculty at his school, Jonesboro Elementary, described him as a standout and enthusiastic student.
“Our hearts are simply broken at the tragic loss,” Bessemer City Schools superintendent Dr. Autumn Jeter said in a statement. “We are here for the family in every way possible, and we ask that everyone lifts the mother, family, and our school community in your prayers. This is tough.”
“He was bright, articulate, and very convincing,” former Jonesboro assistant principal Van James said about the boy. “We even tried to convince him to become a lawyer.”
The other victims in the shooting were described as an adult male, an adult female, and a juvenile female.
The shooting comes after a 5-year-old boy was taken to the hospital Tuesday after being shot in a vehicle. The injury was initially considered life-threatening. There have been no reports about the boy’s current condition.