Cops: Woman pepper sprayed fellow shoppers
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Black Friday shoppers injured.
15 hurt after 'unhappy customer' pepper-sprays Black Friday shoppers,
Fifteen Black Friday bargain-hunters suffered minor injuries at a crowded Wal-Mart store in Los Angeles late Thursday after an angry woman used pepper spray when shoppers tried to cut in line.
The incident occurred shortly after 10:20 p.m. PT (1:20 a.m. ET Friday) in the San Fernando Valley as shoppers looking for deals were let inside the store.
Shawn Lenske, a Los Angeles fire department spokesman, said the injuries were due to "rapid crowd movement."
NBC News reported police said no more than 15 were hurt, 10 of them for the effects of inhalation of pepper spray.
Police Lt. Abel Parga said a woman used pepper spray, then left. Parga said police were looking for the woman and no arrests have been made.
"It was an unhappy customer,'' he said.
A witness told Los Angeles' NBC4 that the incident started as people waited in line for the new Xbox 360.
The witness said a woman with two children in tow became upset with the way people were pushing in line. The witness said the woman pulled out pepper spray and sprayed the other people.
NBC News quoted a police officer as saying the flare-up was triggered when a crowd rushed toward merchandise following a "big reveal" of items that had been hidden by draping.
NYT: Friday's deals may not be the best
One section of the store was cleared while patients were treated and the pepper spray dissipated, Parga said. People were seen pouring out of the store, but customers were allowed back in to continue shopping.
The dispute came as as stores opened their doors at midnight — a few hours earlier than they normally do on the most anticipated shopping day of the year.
msnbc.com graphic: Black Friday holiday shopping stats
Herald Square in New York was bustling at 6 p.m. ET Thursday, the Associated Press reported, with shoppers looking to snag discounts at Old Navy and other stores that were open on the Thanksgiving. By 9:45 p.m. ET, more than 300 people were waiting outside a Best Buy in New York before it opened at midnight. An hour later, nearly 2,000 were in line at another Best Buy in St. Petersburg, Florida, ahead of its midnight opening.
Retailers hope the earlier openings will make Black Friday shopping more convenient for Americans who are more likely to be worried about high unemployment and the other challenges they face in the weak economy.
Black Friday is important to merchants because it kicks off the holiday shopping season, a time when they can make 25 to 40 percent of their annual revenue. It's expected that shoppers will spend nearly $500 billion during the holiday shopping season, or about 3 percent more than they did last year.Black Friday fight -Nov. 25, 2011