"He was bright, articulate, and very convincing," a former assistant principal said of Royta Giles Jr.

By Ally Mauch
July 04, 2020 03:00 PM
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An 8-year-old boy was killed in a shooting at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama, on Friday afternoon, police said in a release.

The child has been identified as Royta Giles Jr., a student at Jonesboro Elementary School in Bessemer, who had recently completed the second grade.

"Our hearts are simply broken at the tragic loss of Royta," Bessemer City Schools Superintendent Dr. Autumn Jeter said in a statement, according to CBS News. "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. We even tried to convince him to become a lawyer," former assistant principal Van James added in the school system statement.

Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said he visited with the boy's parents Friday evening, according to CBS News. "This was just a very senseless tragedy and of course they are devastated by this," Brocato said, asking city residents to pray for the family.

Three others, two adults and a child, were also injured in the shooting and transported to a nearby hospital, but their conditions are currently unknown, Hoover Police said.

Calls were made to 911 reporting shots fired near the mall’s food court around 3:18 p.m. local time, but authorities do not know what led up to the shooting.

Shortly after the shooting, the mall released a statement announcing that it had closed and would remain closed on Saturday.

"We are heartbroken by the tragic, senseless incident that took place in our shopping center this afternoon. Riverchase Galleria was evacuated immediately and will remain closed while the Hoover Police Department conducts their investigation,” the statement said. “There is no additional information available at this time and ask that all questions be directed to the Hoover Police Department. The shopping center will remain closed tomorrow, July 4."