Joe Gould, Clare Trapasso and Rich Schapiro, New York Daily News, November 28, 2008
A Wal-Mart worker died early Friday after an “out-of-control” mob of frenzied shoppers smashed through the Long Island store’s front doors and trampled him, police said.
The Black Friday stampede plunged the Valley Stream outlet into chaos, knocking several employees to the ground and sending others scurrying atop vending machines to avoid the horde.
When the madness ended, 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour was dead and four shoppers, including a woman eight months pregnant, were injured.
Damour, a temporary maintenance worker from Jamaica, Queens, was gasping for air as shoppers continued to surge into the store after its 5 a.m. opening, witnesses said.
Even officers who arrived to perform CPR on the trampled worker were stepped on by wild-eyed shoppers streaming inside, a cop at the scene said.
Roughly 2,000 people gathered outside the Wal-Mart’s doors in the predawn darkness.
Chanting “push the doors in,” the crowd pressed against the glass as the clock ticked down to the 5 a.m. opening.
Sensing catastrophe, nervous employees formed a human chain inside the entrance to slow down the mass of shoppers.
It didn’t work.
The mob barreled in and overwhelmed workers.
“They were jumping over the barricades and breaking down the door,” said Pat Alexander, 53, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. “Everyone was screaming. You just had to keep walking on your toes to keep from falling over.”
After the throng toppled Damour, his fellow employees had to fight through the crowd to help him, police said.
Witness Kimberly Cribbs said shoppers acted like “savages.”
“When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, ‘I’ve been on line since Friday morning!’” Cribbs said. “They kept shopping.”
The 28-year-old pregnant woman and three other shoppers were taken to area hospitals with minor injuries, police said.
Fleming [Nassau County police spokesman Lt. Michael Fleming] said criminal charges were possible but that it would be difficult to identify individual shoppers in surveillance videos.
Items on sale at the Wal-Mart store included a $798 Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28 and Men’s Wrangler Tough Jeans for $8.
The Long Island store reopened at 1 p.m. and was packed within minutes.