As Birmingham’s city councilors met Tuesday, the mood was somber.
Just a day earlier, Jordan Melton, a Birmingham firefighter, had died as a result of injuries he suffered when he and his colleague, Jamal Jones, were shot inside Station 9 on July 12.
As council members gathered in Boutwell Auditorium for their regularly scheduled meeting, a shirt was draped in solidarity across the tables at the front of the room. It was a show of solidarity: “Birmingham Fire & Rescue,” it said across its front.
“On behalf of Mayor Woodfin, I want to express that our hearts are with the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service and the Melton family as they continue to mourn Monday’s passing of firefighter Jordan Melton after he was shot last week at Station 9 in Norwood,” Cedric Sparks, the mayor’s chief of staff, said at the meeting.
“Jordan was a vibrant young brother who was full of life,” Woodfin, who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, posted on social media a day earlier. “He loved to talk sports as much as he loved good barbecue. He had a brilliant mind for business, but he was always down to lighten the mood with a joke or two. He was also a wonderful son to his mother, who has been his rock in these difficult past few days.”
Jordan had served with BFRS for more than a year, Woodfin said, but had just graduated from the recruit academy a month ago.
“Jordan paid the ultimate price for his service to our city, we will not let that sacrifice be in vain,” he said. “We are his family, and his memory will be honored.”
President Wardine Alexander was the first to address Melton’s passing on behalf of the council. She spoke softly, the emotion in her voice welling up in waves.
“I know what it means to walk those halls of ICU and wait and pray and hope when your child has been a victim of violence, and so I just want to extend my prayers to that family, to the Birmingham Fire and Rescue team,” Alexander said. “And let’s just remember the sacrifice that our staff and those workers give to us and for us.”
Councilor Valerie Abbott, too, seemed moved when speaking about Melton’s death.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. How many times are we going to have to say that?” Abbott asked those gathered. “You know, I feel like it has become trite for us to say, Our prayers are with you and your family for the heinous murder that has happened to you.’”
The undeniable losses caused by gun violence in the city, Abbott said, have become all too routine.
“There are heinous murders happening every minute,” Abbott said. “It is so sad and so discouraging that we are so selfish and so greedy that we have to kill other people. And it just breaks my heart that a young man died for no reason except that someone was selfish and greedy and wanted to take his life and shut him up. It’s just heartbreaking. But how do you stop people from being evil? God knows they are in our prayers and in our hearts and in our thoughts. But what are we going to do? This just can’t go on. But it’s going to. I know it’s going to. But my thoughts and prayers are certainly with Jordan Melton’s mother. I just hope it helps.”
No arrests have been made in the shooting, according to Birmingham Police. A motive for the attack is also so far unclear, authorities have said.
Firefighter Jamal Jones, who was shot alongside Melton, is still recovering from his injuries.
LifeSouth Community Blood Centers plans to hold a blood drive in honor of Melton and Jones on July 19 at Birmingham Fire Station 1 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The station is located at 1808 7th Avenue North.