The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 28, 2013

When Black Friday madness takes a tragic turn

As Black Friday bleeds into Thanksgiving Day, the frenzy surrounding one of the busiest shopping days of the year has grown and, in some instances, led to violence or even deaths. Here is a look at some recent incidents that have marred one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Tragedy in New York

In 2008, a Wal-Mart employee was killed when hundreds of shoppers stampeded through the doors as the store, located about 20 miles east of Manhattan, opened at 5 a.m. According to the New York Times, other workers were trampled when they tried to help the man, and at least four other people — including a woman who was eight months pregnant — were injured. Police estimates put the crowd gathered outside the store in the pre-dawn hours at about 2,000.

Fight over toys turns deadly

An argument between two women at a Toys R Us store in Palm Desert, Calif., ended with two others dead on Black Friday in 2008. The argument, for which no reason was given, intensified into a fistfight between two men who were accompanying the women, according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun. They then pulled out handguns and began shooting at each other as panicked shoppers fled the store. Both men ended up shot to death.

‘Shopping rage’

In 2011, the scene at a Los Angeles Wal-Mart turned chaotic when a 33-year-old woman allegedly released pepper spray into a crowd of shoppers as a selection of electronics was unveiled. The Los Angeles Times reported that a police lieutenant described the incident as “customer-versus-customer shopping rage,” recounting a scene where people were screaming as they were shoved into display boxes. The woman eluded police, and store surveillance video failed to provide a clear description of her amid the mayhem.

Line jumper

A 21-year-old woman in Madison, Wis., was arrested in 2010 after cutting in line in front of several hundred shoppers at a Toys R Us store. She was charged with disorderly conduct after she allegedly threatened other shoppers who confronted her, saying she would pull out a gun and shoot them. “Everybody was cutting in line,” Lanessa Lattimore told CNN. “I just wanted to get my daughter the toy she wanted for Christmas.”

Gift certificates gone wrong

Instead of holding a drawing to give away gift certificates or handing them out on Black Friday in 2006, officials at a shopping center in Torrance, Calif., thought it would be fun to drop them from the ceiling. Big mistake. A free-for-all erupted as an estimated 2,000 shoppers scrambled to grab one of the 500 gift certificates. Among the 10 people injured in the melee was an elderly woman who was transported to a nearby hospital. The mall’s marketing director, Sam Carpenter, told the Associated Press that management was “completely overwhelmed” by the turnout for the promotion.

Stampede at Target

The scene at a Target store in Buffalo turned chaotic in 2010 when anxious shoppers rushed through the entrance as the doors opened at 4 a.m. on Black Friday.

Fracas over cell phones

A female customer was punched in the face when shoppers scrambled to snatch up "Straight Talk" phones as they were released at a Benton, Mich., Wal-Mart store in 2011.

Tossing towels

Some crazed Wal-Mart shoppers rushed a towel rack on Black Friday in 2011.

Charging into Urban Outfitters

A giant crowd swarms through the entrance of an Urban Outfitters store in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in 2011.

--Information compiled from media reports

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