10 Worst Black Friday Moments

As the Black Friday frenzy has escalated in recent years, so too have the number of ugly incidents surrounding the official start to the holiday shopping season.

No one knows the trouble that can happen the day after Thanksgiving more than Wal-Mart, which has seen stores around the country marred by violence on the frenzied shopping day.

This year could be even worse for the giant retailer, as thousands of employees are planning to strike on Black Friday in an effort to end what union-backed workers call retaliation against employees who speak out for better pay, fair schedules and affordable health care.

With thousands of workers expected to participate, Wal-Mart stores around the country could be left shorthanded as they contend with the mobs of shoppers expected on Black Friday.

Here are 10 other incidents that have cast a shadow over Black Friday.

Target petition

By moving the start of Black Friday shopping to Thursday evening, one big-box retailer has opened itself up to a public relations nightmare.

In an effort to stop the Thanksgiving night opening, one Target employee has launched a nationwide campaign asking retailers to give employees their Thanksgiving back.

Part-time employee Casey St. Clair is hopeful that her petition, which asks the company to forgo its Thursday evening opening, could reach CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

In an interview with CNN, St. Clair said her issue is not with people wanting to get a jump on shopping.

"My issue is that Target and other retailers have done something they have never done before in opening on Thanksgiving," she said. "My anger is aimed at the loss of a day that, up until now, was considered important enough for only the most essential services to be open."

While the petition, which has been signed by more than 365,000 people, is unlikely to prevent Target from starting Black Friday early, St. Clair is hoping it will make the retailer rethink next year's plans.

"Going forward, I hope it forces Target and other companies to take another look when they realize how many people out there care about this issue," St. Clair told CNN.

Despite the protest, at least some Target stores will be open on Thanksgiving night.

Pepper spray

Last year, things tuned ugly outside a Los Angeles Wal-Mart when a 33-year-old woman was accused of unleashing pepper spray on other shoppers as they made a frantic dash for electronics. According to police, the women started spraying the pepper spray as soon as the items she was interested in were unveiled.

"This was customer-versus-customer 'shopping rage,'" Los Angeles Police Lt. Abel Parga told the Los Angeles Times.

Witnesses described the scene as total chaos, with people screaming, pulling and pushing into each other as pepper spray filled the area.

"I guess what triggered it was people started pulling the plastic off the pallets and then shoving and bombarding the display of games," witness Alejandra Seminario said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "It started with people pushing and screaming because they were getting shoved onto the boxes."


In 2008, the Black Friday chaos was responsible for the death of one Wal-Mart employee.

A 34-year-old Wal-Mart worker was killed in Valley Stream, N.Y., when thousands of shoppers rushed through the doors as the store was opening at 5 a.m.

Police said security vides showed the employee being knocked down as the doors opened, then trampled by hundreds of eager shoppers.

"This was utter chaos as these men tried to open the door this morning," Nassau County police Detective Lt. Michael Fleming told CNN at the time. "Shoppers ... were on a full-out run into the store."

The incident also resulted in minor injuries to several shoppers, including a pregnant woman who required a visit to the hospital.

Flying gift certificates

A shopping center in Torrance, Calif., got more than it bargained for on Black Friday in 2006 when its gift certificate giveaway went horribly wrong.

Instead of just handing out gift certificates, the center decided it would be fun to drop them from the ceiling.

However, as soon as the 500 gift certificates were dropped from above, a rugby-style scrum erupted as 2,000 frenzied shoppers went scrambling to grab a piece of the action.

The free-for-all left 10 people injured, including an elderly women who required hospitalization.

The mall's marketing director, Sam Carpenter, told the Associated Press that the mall's management was "completely overwhelmed" by the turnout for the promotion.

Deadly shootout

A skirmish between two women inside a Palm Desert, Calif., Toys R Us ended in death for two others on Black Friday in 2008.

While it was unclear how it started, as argument between two women escalated into a punching match inside the crowded toy store. Two men, who had been accompanying each of the women, pulled out handguns and began shooting and chasing each other around the store.

They ended up shooting each other to death as distraught shoppers went racing from the store.

Despite the incident occurring on Black Friday, Toys R Us refused to lump it in with other Black Friday confrontations.

"Our understanding is that this act seems to have been the result of a personal dispute between the individuals involved," Bob Friedland, public relations manager for Toys R Us, said in a statement at the time. "Therefore, it would be inaccurate to associate the events of today with Black Friday."

Cut in line

On Black Friday, the line at one Toys R Us was just too much for a Wisconsin woman to handle.

In 2010, Madison, Wis., police said a 21-year-old woman cut in line in front of several hundred others — and when confronted about it by other shoppers, she threatened to pull out a gun and start shooting them.

While the woman was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, she claimed to be doing nothing more than what others were.

"Everybody was cutting in line," she told CNN at the time. "I just wanted to get my daughter the toy that she wanted for Christmas, which probably won't be there when I go today."

In the end, police said no gun was found at the scene.

Grandfather taken down

A Phoenix, Ariz.,-area grandfather was bloodied by police after they alleged he was trying to shoplift from a Wal-Mart on Black Friday in 2011.

According to reports, police swooped in on the grandfather after he was seen stuffing a video game down his pants. Police said the man resisted arrest and was walking toward the front door when an officer knocked him to the ground with a leg sweep.

In a video of the incident posted on YouTube, the man can be seen lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

The victim's wife, however, claimed her husband was just protecting her grandson. At the time, the Arizona Republic quoted a police report as saying the woman believed her husband had put the video game into his waistband to free his hands to help his grandson, who was caught in the crush of shoppers.

Before being taken to jail and charged with shoplifting and resisting arrest, the 54-year-old grandfather was taken to a local hospital and treated for facial lacerations and a bloody nose.

Ready for war

On Black Friday in 2010, one customer showed up at a Palm Beach, Fla., Wal-Mart ready for war.

While waiting in line to enter the store, another shopper alerted police to a man she believed was carrying a gun.

When police approached the man, they found him wearing a .40-caliber Glock handgun with a 30-round magazine in a holster at his hip. The Palm Beach Post reported the man also had two concealed knives, a "pepper grenade" and more than 100 prescription pills on him.

Despite the man's claims of being a retired federal agent, he was charged with two counts of carrying a concealed firearm and three counts each of carrying a prohibited weapon and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.

Flying laptops

Black Friday in 2005 in Orlando, Fla., turned violent when local Wal-Mart employees began tossing laptop computers in the air to the frenzied shoppers.

Witnesses described the scene as complete pandemonium.

"They were throwing laptops 20 feet in the air, and people were collapsing on each other to grab them," shopper Brian Horwitz told Orlando television station WFTV. "It was ridiculous."

Amid the chaos, one man was taken into custody after fighting with other shoppers and then a security guard. The man was later released, however, after police said that in the confusion, he fought off the plain-clothes security guards because he thought they were other customers.

Robbery attempt

Last year, a Black Friday shopper in northern California was shot during an attempted robbery as he left the store armed with bags of gifts.

Police said the victim and his two cousins, all in their 20s, were walking to their car around 2 a.m. when three men pulled up behind them in a car and demanded their purchases. A fight broke out when the family refused, prompting one of the robbers to pull out a gun and shoot one of the cousins in the neck.

"The suspects saw these guys, got out of their car and tried to rob them but were unsuccessful," San Leandro police Sgt. Mike Sobek told the Press Democrat.

Two of the men were apprehended and charged with attempted homicide and robbery.

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