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Incidents mar Black Friday

Nov. 25, 2011 at 9:48 PM   |   Comments

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LOS ANGELES, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Some Black Friday shoppers showed a more aggressive approach to bargain-hunting than others, with one California shopper using pepper spray to ward off rivals.

Teens rushing the door forced a 2-hour closure of a Pink store in the Chicago area; police arrested a man following a fight at a jewelry counter in a Kissimmee, Fla., Walmart; and shooting incidents were reported outside Walmarts in San Leandro, Calif., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

For all the hoopla surrounding the much-anticipated shopping day, it was unclear whether consumers were actually buying and not just browsing.

Police in Porter Ranch, Calif., were searching for a woman who allegedly pepper sprayed other shoppers to give herself an edge.

"It's been a very safe event at thousands of Walmart stores," company spokesman Gregg Rossiter told the Los Angeles Times. He termed the violence "a few unfortunate incidents."

"This was customer-vs.-customer 'shopping rage,'" Los Angeles Police Lt. Abel Parga said.

Nearly two dozen customers and children reported symptoms of skin and eye irritation, and sore throats.

"She was competitive shopping," Los Angeles Fire Capt. James Carson said.

"I heard screaming and I heard yelling," shopper Matthew Lopez, 18, said. "Moments later, my throat stung. I was coughing really bad and watering up."

Lopez, who was shopping for video games, said by the time he made it to the video game display, it had been torn down. Fights over Xbox gaming consoles and Wii video games turned into a shoving match in the store.

"It was absolutely crazy," Lopez said.

In the Chicago suburb of Orland Park, the Chicago Tribune reported a "mad rush" at a Pink store at the Orland Square Mall resulted in display cases being knocked over.

"They didn't anticipate the volume of shoppers that showed up for their sale," Orland Park Police Cmdr. John Keating said.

No injuries or arrests were reported but the store was closed for 2 hours.

Police in Kissimmee, Fla., arrested Oswald Antonio Cruz Marbert for resisting arrest following a fight at a Walmart jewelry counter, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Tonia Robbins, 55, of Marston, N.C., was shot in the foot as she, her sister and son left a Walmart in Myrtle Beach, S.C., with their Black Friday bargains. The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News said police were searching for two suspects.

Police said a gunman demanded Robbins' purse. The son, Jeremy, jumped on the suspect's back but was knocked off, and Ann Robbins, 55, of Rockingham, N.C., the victim's sister, got her gun from the center console of their truck and shot over the heads of the suspect and his accomplice.

"Because Ann had her pistol with her is what probably saved their lives," Jerry Robbins, Tonia's husband, said.

A family shopping at a Walmart in San Leandro, Calif., said members were accosted by three or four people. One family member was shot and critically wounded for refusing to hand over purchases while other family members managed to wrestle one suspect, who was later arrested, to the ground, the Times said.

Two shoppers at a Walmart in Rome, N.Y., near Syracuse, were sent to a hospital with bodily injuries after being thrown to the floor when fights broke out near a cellphone display and in the electronics department moments after Black Friday started, the Oneida County Sheriff's Office said.

The fights broke out at 12:01 a.m., almost immediately after shoppers were let in for the holiday sales, sheriff officials said.

Robert C. Perry of Rome was charged with disorderly conduct, while other detained shoppers had charges pending, The (Syracuse) Post-Standard reported.

Shoppers in the Washington area lined up outside of Best Buy stores as early as Wednesday afternoon for TVs and other electronics, The Washington Post reported.

"I saw a good deal and didn't want to pass it up," said Javier Marin, 47, about the 42-inch and 55-inch televisions he planned to buy. "I'm missing Thanksgiving with my family but it's just one year. I can be forgiven for that."

Mike Masho, 25, was waiting in line for the 42-inch TV at the Best Buy in Springfield, Va., but left after other shoppers let family and friends join them in line and he was pushed back.

"People who had been in line let their family just come out of nowhere and jump in, and the guards did nothing," Masho said.

He ultimately left Best Buy to wait with a buddy outside of a Target store for a comparable TV.

"I'm just going to head over there," he said. "For $100 more, I can get a slightly bigger TV and avoid this mess. I'm not doing this again next year."

Despite some complaints about stores being open on Thanksgiving, the move seemed to pay off for retailers, CNN reported. About 152 million people are expected to shop through the weekend, up 10 percent from 2010.

For those who decided to stay away from stores this year, more deals will appear on Cyber Monday. Eight-in-10 online retailers will be offering deals Monday, said a survey by Shop.org, an online division of the National Retail Federation.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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