Will face masks prevent police from identifying Riverchase Galleria mall shooting suspects?

Updated: Jul. 6, 2020 at 10:49 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Dozens of tips began pouring in to Crime Stoppers of Metro Birmingham since Hoover Police released images of five men accused of being involved in a shootout that left a little boy dead and three others hurt.

Royta Giles Jr., 8, died from a gunshot wound to the head. Police said all of the victims were innocent bystanders.

A manhunt quickly ensued for the five men, and a possible reward of up to $5,000 was offered by Crime Stoppers for tips leading to their capture.

The images of the suspects taken from mall security cameras were not very clear and the men were wearing masks in the clearest image.

Many were concerned the masks worn due to the Jefferson County mandatory mask ordinance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic would hinder police from identifying the suspects.

Sgt. John Pennington with Crime Stoppers said the face masks would not prevent the public from identifying the men because usually the eyes are one of the most noticeable trait. Pennington also said when someone knows a person there’s many characteristics about that person that will stick out other than facial features.

“The clothes that they are wearing, their height, their weight, the way that they fashion their hair is the most telling thing. It could be the way they walk, carry themselves, who they are with [also],” said Pennington.

The City of Hoover continued to mourn the loss of Royta and Monday night at the city council meeting Mayor Frank Bracoto vowed to make the Galleria mall more safe.

By our count there have been four shootings at the Galleria in the past two years. The previous three shootings were in November 2018, June 2019 and August 2019.

Safety was a major concern for local shoppers, many WBRC spoke to vowed not to return to the Galleria.

Mayor Bracoto said the city is making plans to make the mall more secure.

“We want to make sure that we can turn that around. We are working very hard with the Galleria ownership and others to make sure that we can restore confidence in that shopping center,” said Bracoto.

WBRC has reached out to the Galleria owners for specific details on how they plan to improve security at the mall, we were still waiting to hear back at the time this article was published.

Police are asking for your help identifying the remaining suspects.

If you know who they are, call Hoover Police at: 205-822-5300 or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward, call Crime Stoppers: 205-254-7777.

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