The holiday shopping season got off to an ugly start with shoppers pepper-spraying one another to battle for bargains and robbers shooting shoppers to steal their Black Friday purchases, police said on Friday.
In Los Angeles, authorities were reviewing Walmart security tapes to track down a Hispanic woman in her 30s who pepper-sprayed the crowd swarming Xboxes on sale 10 p.m. local time Thursday, Los Angeles police Sergeant J. Valle said.
"They were opening a package to try to get some Xboxes from a crate and this lady pepper-sprayed a whole bunch of people in order to gain an advantage over the Xboxes," Valle said.
Firefighters treated and released as many as 20 people injured in the incident at the Walmart in Northridge, California, authorities said. It was not known whether the woman actually purchased the Xboxes, Valle said.
Walmart is the U.S. discount store unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
In South Carolina, a Black Friday shopping spree at a Walmart in Myrtle Beach ended in gunfire when Tonia Robbins, 55, was accosted at about 1 a.m. on Friday by a robber who demanded her purse and then shot her in the foot, police said.
Robbins and her shopping companions were placing their purchases in the trunk of her car, parked across the street from the store, when the robber approached, police said.
When Robbins screamed, one of her companions reached into the car, pulled out a revolver stashed in the console and pointed it at the robber, who ran off, police said. She then fired two or three warning shots into the air.
Robbins was hospitalized and her condition was not known.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York, Harriet McLeod in South Carolina; Editing by David Bailey)
Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.