Posted on December 26, 2011

Arrests, Pepper Spray, Gunshots, Brawls and Doors Pulled Off Hinges: Chaos at Stores Across U.S. as Thousands of Shoppers Scramble for New Nike Air Jordans

Mark Duell, Daily Mail (London), December 24, 2011

If you thought the Black Friday shopping fights were crazy then just look what happened when a re-issue of shoes first worn 15 years ago by basketball legend Michael Jordan went on sale.

Madness was breaking out today at stores across the U.S. as impatient shoppers queued up to get their hands on the first new Nike retro Air Jordan shoes that went on sale for $180 this morning.

Police used pepper spray in Seattle, Washington; four people were arrested in Atlanta, Georgia; there were fights in Louisville, Kentucky, and unruly crowds forced two stores shut in Austin, Texas.

Fights broke out in Charlotte, North Carolina; a gunshot was fired in Richmond, California; 1,500 turned up for 300 pairs of shoes in Indianapolis, Indiana; and a boy was injured in Troy, Michigan.

In Pineville, North Carolina, dozens of police officers had to break up fights and restore order inside Carolina Place Mall as early as 5am on Friday.

Outside the Foot Locker on the second floor, two could be seen throwing punches as they waited to get their hands on the Air Jordan XI Concord tennis shoe.

Witnesses said some shoppers started jumping the line, then a crowd of people at the back of the line forced their way to the front, causing several people to get angry and become unruly.

‘People were falling, I had to jump over a girl, it was crazy,’ Dominique Brewer said.

‘One kid was trampled and hurt his arm, maybe even broke it,’ a Troy Police spokesman told Patch, after shoppers had lined up at two Foot Locker stores from 4am for the highly-anticipated shoes.

He added that ‘shouting’ crowds outside both stores became ‘unruly’ and police had to escort some shoppers to their cars after they had bought the Nike Air Jordan XI Retro ‘Concord’ shoes.

‘The crowd got a little out of control at both malls, and both malls had to call the police department,’ spokesman Andy Breidenich told Patch. ‘It was a strain on our resources.’

Moving west to Seattle, police used pepper spray on around 20 people to break up fights among pushing and shoving customers waiting outside a mall to buy the shoes.

One man was arrested there for assault after police say he pushed an officer. Authorities said more than 1,000 people lined up to buy shoes at 4am at four stores, which all sold out quickly.

In Atlanta, four people were arrested in a mad dash by customers hoping to purchase a pair of the shoes and up to 20 squad cars responded.

Police said a large crowd broke down a door to get inside before a store opened. Authorities escorted most of the people back outside, but took four into custody.

Officers said they had to break a car window to get two toddlers out after a woman went in after the shoes. They said she was taken into custody when she returned to the car.

Meanwhile in Indianapolis, 1,500 people were waiting for 300 pairs of shoes hours at Castleton Square Mall before they went on sale when police were called by security because of shoving.

Shoppers were throwing things at each other and officers, police told ABC affiliate WRTV. Authorities also had concerns that a glass window on the storefront could break because of the crowd pushing.

‘We were trying to do what we could to make sure that once a person purchased the shoes and left that they were able to make it to their cars safely,’ an Indianapolis Police spokesman told WRTV.

‘I don’t remember anything like this in the recent past at all, definitely not with the iPhone or anything like that,’ another Indianapolis Police spokesman told ABC News.

The front doors of Lafayette Square Mall were broken off their hinges at 7am as shoppers ran inside and several people were knocked over in the mad rush, reported the Indianapolis Star.

‘There was a few people who were on the ground,’ Jazmine Edwards told WRTV. ‘I jumped over them and kept running.’ The Nike shoes were first worn in 1996 when Jordan was with the Chicago Bulls.

‘There were gloves, hats and pieces of clothing everywhere,’ Balint Nagy, 30, told the Indianapolis Star of the manic scene at the Lafayette Square Mall. ‘One guy lost both shoes and went in anyway.’

Over in Charlotte, North Carolina, three malls reported unruly customers and dozens of police officers were called to restore order at Carolina Place Mall in Pineville after fights erupted.

The unrest started at 5am as a crowd of about 200 that had been waiting pushed inside. Women were seen throwing punches. There were also disturbances at SouthPark and Northlake malls. Police at both asked patrons to leave.

‘People were falling,’ Dominique Brewer told NBC affiliate WAFF. ‘I had to jump over a girl, it was crazy.’ But Carolina Place Mall manager Susan Barwick still described the shoe sale as ‘successful’.

The shoes named for Jordan are still generate huge sales years after the retirement of the NBA legend, who now owns the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

Two malls with Foot Locker stores in Austin, Texas, were shut down on Thursday night at around 10pm when shoppers began pushing each other and police called in backup to control the crowd.

‘People started pushing like crazy and they started spraying mace on us for no reason,’ Jalen Hall told KVUE. ‘Nobody was doing anything bad.’ Police did not confirm the use of pepper spray there.

In Richmond, California, crowds waiting to buy the shoes at the Hilltop Mall were turned away after a gunshot rang out at 7am. No injuries were reported but a suspect, 24, was taken into custody.

There were also reports of Florida police using pepper spray. In Louisville, Kentucky, witnesses said police had to break up around 100 shoppers who were fighting over the shoes at Jefferson Mall.

‘I got the love for the “Js”,’ Brandon Betts told Fox affiliate WRDB. ‘Look at the box. The box is cold. Man it’s crazy in there: people getting run over and security guards getting trampled and stuff.’