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New Air Jordans still incite shopper violence 9 years after player's retirement

By Michael Martinez and Adam Shivers
December 24, 2011 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police officers are injured; some are forced to use pepper spray
  • Some stores are shut down because of unruly crowds
  • The $180 Air Jordan Retro XI is a remake of a 1996 version

(CNN) -- Almost nine years into the basketball legend's retirement, a new version of Michael Jordan athletic shoes can still send fans into a mad frenzy: Stores nationwide were the scenes of violence and police officer injuries Friday, authorities said.

In Richmond, California, police investigated a gunshot fired outside a mall where the latest version of shoes named after Jordan went on sale for about $180 a pair Friday morning, police told CNN affiliate KGO.

A 24-year-old Richmond man was taken into custody in connection with the gunfire, said police Lt. Lori Curran.

"It appears right now it may have been just a negligent discharge," Curran said.

Even as early as 1990, a new pair of Air Jordans was so coveted that youngsters became violent in stealing the shoes. Jordan and his Chicago Bulls won six NBA championships in the 1990s.

Thursday evening in Austin, Texas, three Foot Locker stores each drew 1,000 people for a midnight sale of the new Air Jordan Retro XI, replicas of a 1996 version of the shoe, and police shut down one mall when two police officers were injured, CNN affiliate KVUE reported. Police said each store had only 150 pairs of the shoes, the station reported.

One of the officers was taken to a hospital after he was rushed by the crowd and suffered bruises and a rolled ankle, KVUE said. Police are reviewing surveillance tapes to find the assailant, police said, according to the station.

"It's been crazy," one woman shopper named Andrea told KVUE, adding that officers threatened to use mace on crowds. "People have been trying to run over the officers to get in the building."

At a suburban Seattle mall Friday, police used pepper spray to bring order to an unruly crowd of 2,000 shoppers seeking the new shoe, said Mike Murphy of the Tukwila, Washington, Police Department.

The Seattle area store wasn't prepared to handle such a large crowd, Murphy said. CNN affiliate KIRO reported that crowds lined up Thursday night for the sale, which started at 4 a.m. Friday.

In Lithonia, Georgia, police took four people into custody after a mall's doors were damaged, CNN affiliate WSB reported. Also, police questioned a mother who witnesses said left her kids, ages 2 and 5, in a car as she went into the mall to buy the shoes, WSB reported.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, police were called to three malls after crowds became rowdy, CNN affiliate WCNC reported. At one mall, customers pried open a door at 6 a.m. Friday, and one person was arrested for resisting an officer, the station reported.

In Taylor, Michigan, a Detroit man was charged with attempting to incite a riot after 300 people became unruly waiting for the mall to open Friday morning, police Cmdr. Mary Sclabassi told CNN.

In Louisville, Kentucky, public safety dispatchers said they received a report of 75 to 100 people in a fight over the shoes at a mall, CNN affiliate WDRB reported.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, police dispatchers said officers at the mall were "having problems" after the shoes apparently sold out, and additional officer were sent to help manage the crowd of about 300 people, CNN affiliate WISH said. The crowd ripped doors off their hinges, police said, according to WISH.

On Friday afternoon, eBay was featuring new pairs of the Air Jordan Retro XI selling between $219.99 and $510.

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