Thousands of vehicles were stopped on Interstate 20/59 South Friday afternoon after what Birmingham police called a large shootout.

There were at least four adult males shot, and two of them had life-threatening injuries, Officer Truman Fitzgerald told reporters.

The shooting happened around 4:40 p.m. at the 20th Street Ensley exit. Investigators believe groups of people in two vehicles were involved.

"We believe that a group of individuals saw their stolen vehicle or alleged stolen vehicle and they began following that vehicle," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said no innocent bystanders were hurt and everyone involved is a suspect, including one female who was not injured.

"Everybody's a suspect right now," Fitzgerald said. "If you're shot at UAB right now, you're a suspect."

The incident began in another municipality but Fitzgerald did not want to name that city until he consulted with their officers. However, Fitzgerald said the fact that the shooters took it upon themselves to react to what could have been a stolen vehicle, is an example of a deeper issue in the community.

"It speaks to the breakdown in our society that we have," said Fitzgerald. "Regardless of the reasoning for what happened, you have a crowded interstate at 4:40 on a holiday and you choose to get into a shootout on the interstate, of all places. And the issue lies with, we have such an 'on-site' mentality going on in our community where everyone wants to handle their issues right then and there."

Fitzgerald added that a simple call to 911 would have been the answer.

"Our officers live for stuff like that," he said. "That's what we go through the training, that's why we put on that uniform and that bulletproof vest to be put in those situations."

Troopers with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) assisted Birmingham Police during the investigation.

Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama is offering up to $5,000 cash for information that helps in the investigation. Anonymous tips can be submitted at (205) 254-7777.

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