Skip to main content

Violence mars Black Friday

By the CNN Wire Staff
November 26, 2011 -- Updated 0025 GMT (0825 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "No deal's worth that," one witness shopper says of pepper spraying
  • L.A. police seek woman suspect in Walmart incident
  • Psychologist says Black Friday tactics make shoppers frenzied
  • Incidents mar Black Friday shopping in at least seven states

(CNN) -- Violence marred Black Friday shopping in at least seven states, including California, where police say a woman doused fellow shoppers with pepper spray in a bid to snag a discounted video game console.

The incident happened Thursday night at a Walmart in the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles, said Officer Robert Chavira, a police spokesman.

Ten people were exposed to the spray. Los Angeles firefighters treated them at the scene and no one required hospitalization, Chavira said.

The woman sprayed the crowd as people were grabbing for Xbox video game consoles, Los Angeles Police Detective Gus Villanueva said.

The suspect was able to pay for her purchases and leave the store before police arrived, Chavira said.

Villanueva described the suspect as a Hispanic woman, 32 to 38 years of age, 5-foot-3, 140 pounds and wearing black pants and a black sweater.

Shooting near Wal-Mart spoils shopping
Black Friday shoppers injured
Black Friday begins at Macy's

Authorities haven't identified the suspect and will be looking at available video, Villanueva said.

He said charges such as spraying a caustic compound would be determined later, but the action doesn't appear to have been self-defense.

One witness to the incident, Juan Castro, said he and other shoppers were hunting for "deals," when a woman began using pepper spray. He was trying to buy a Wii video game at $20, marked down from a typical $60, he said.

"I don't know if she felt threatened or she felt she had to do that to get what she wanted," Castro told CNN.

"I didn't see her personally, but I sure got the scent of the mace. I got it in my throat. It was burning. I saw people around me, they got it really bad. As you see in the video, some woman was crying 'my eyes, my eyes,'" Castro said.

"I tried to get away as quickly as possible because I didn't think it was worth it. No deal's worth that," he said.

Incidents also occurred in South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, New York, Alabama and Connecticut, with most of the reported incidents happening at or near Walmart stores.

Despite the reports, Walmart said the day's shopping frenzy had been remarkably safe for shoppers at its thousands of stores nationwide.

"There were a few unfortunate incidents but overall we have received very positive feedback from our customers," Walmart spokesman Greg Rossiter said.

In 2008, crowds of frantic Black Friday shoppers trampled a Walmart employee in New York as he and other workers tried to unlock the door at 5 a.m.

While no deaths were reported in this year's shopping, authorities said they handled fights, shootings and other incidents through the morning.

Psychologist Jeff Gardere, in an appearance Friday on CNN, put some of the blame on retailers for staging sales that encourage hyper-competitive behavior among shoppers who may be desperate because of the poor economy.

"They shouldn't be psyching them up so much and using all sorts of psychological tactics to get them to feed into this desperation and competitive spirit," he said.

"I think people are whipped into a frenzy, physically, psychologically," he said.

Black Friday brings out bad behavior
Man arrested, Tased at Walmart

In San Leandro, California, police had one man in custody and another was hospitalized after a 1:45 a.m. shooting in a Walmart parking lot.

"It was a robbery gone bad," police Sgt. Mike Sobek told reporters. "The victim's family fought with the robbers. They were able to detain one suspect. We are not sure if that suspect is the shooter, but we do have one person in custody right now."

In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, police said two people suffered injuries in an apparent armed robbery attempt after they left a Walmart store around 1 a.m. Friday, CNN affiliate WMBF reported.

Would-be robbers struck a man on the head and shot a woman in the leg before another shopper displayed a gun and the assailants fled, the station said, citing Myrtle Beach Police Capt. Kevin Heins. The woman was taken to a hospital for treatment, he said.

Sheriff's deputies in Fayetteville, North Carolina, were looking for two men after shots were fired about 2 a.m. at a shopping mall.

And in Kinston, North Carolina, an off-duty officer working security at a Walmart sprayed shoppers with pepper spray in an effort to stop a disturbance there, WITN reported, citing police Sgt. Roland Davis.

Customer Angel Bunting told the station it happened while people were waiting to buy discount cell phones and a man fell into a display. She said she thought security believed there was a fight, according to WITN.

Police arrested a man in a Kissimmee, Florida, Walmart on a resisting arrest charge after an early morning altercation at the jewelry counter, according to the police department.

In Rome, New York, a brawl broke out in the electronics department at a Walmart moments after midnight, CNN affiliate WSTM reported, citing the Oneida County Sheriff's Office. Two people were taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries, the station reported.

Police in Florence, Alabama, said they had to use a stun gun -- twice -- on a Walmart customer, CNN affiliate WAFF reported. The 22-year-old man was charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest around 11 p.m. Thursday, an hour after the store opened its doors for Black Friday, WAFF reported, citing police.

A picture of the incident distributed on Twitter shows the man lying face down in an aisle, the officer atop him with a knee on his back.

And in Southington, Connecticut, iReporter Ryan Casale said he witnessed police using a stun gun on a man at the Walmart store where he was shopping. He said he wasn't sure what was happening or why, but said the event left an impression on him.

"This was my first Black Friday shopping experience, and I'll never forget what I saw," he said. "You see sides of people that they, themselves didn't even know existed."

CNN's Vivian Kuo, Michael Saba, Sandra Endo, Michael Cary and Michael Martinez contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT