The night after Thanksgiving, known as ‘Black Friday’, can get pretty hectic for those scouring stores for the best deals on the most desired merchandise, but for some, that experience can be dangerous.
Shoppers at the Porter Ranch Wal-Mart in California’s San Fernando Valley say a woman fighting to get her hands on an Xbox or Wii gaming console began riddling people with pepper spray around 10 p.m., when the official sale was scheduled to begin.
In the melee, a reported 20 people, including children, were injured by the spray.
The Los Angeles Times spoke with shoppers injured or affected by the woman police say was “competitive shopping.”
Matthew Lopez, 18, who was hit by the spray, told the Times, ‘I heard screaming and I heard yelling. Moments later, my throat stung. I was coughing really bad and watering up.’
He described the scene, saying game displays were already torn down by the time he got there, and that employees were attempting to pick up merchandise while keeping the customers back.
Fellow shopper, Alejandra Seminario, 24, also spoke with the Times and said that while waiting to get to the toy section just before 10 p.m., people in the next row over were ripping apart the plastic wrap encasing the gaming consoles that were going to be opened in just a few minutes.
KCBS received cell phone video footage of some of the pepper-spray aftermath from Juan Castro, a man caught in the middle. (See video below) He told the station people were “trampling” and fighting each other.
‘There were a lot of people who got it in their eyes…they were burning. They were screaming, crying. It was bad.’
‘People started screaming, pulling and pushing each other, and then the whole area filled up with pepper spray. I guess what triggered it was people started pulling the plastic off the pallets and then shoving and bombarding the display of games,’ Seminario said. ‘It started with people pushing and screaming because they were getting shoved onto the boxes.’
She said that after she and her husband paid they saw people “in really bad shape” after getting hit with the pepper spray. Some had extremely swollen and red faces.
Friday morning, Wal-Mart employees had taken statements from those injured and police were trying to use video surveillance footage to identify the woman who deployed the spray.
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