LOS ANGELES - A woman trying to improve her chance to buy cheap electronics at a Walmart in a wealthy suburb used pepper spray on a crowd of shoppers, and 20 people suffered minor injuries, police said yesterday.
The attack took place about 10:20 p.m. Thursday shortly after doors opened for the sale at a Walmart in Porter Ranch in the San Fernando Valley.
The store had brought out a crate of discounted Xbox video game consoles, and a crowd had formed to wait for the unwrapping, when the woman began spraying people “in order to get an advantage,’’ police Sergeant Jose Valle said.
“Faces were red,’’ shopper John Lopez told ABC News Radio. “This one guy was coming up to my wife going, ‘Call an ambulance! Call an ambulance!’ ’’
Matthew Lopez, 18, told the Los Angeles Times he heard screaming and yelling.
“Moments later, my throat stung,’’ he said. “I was coughing really bad and watering up.’’
In the aftermath, video showed dozens of shoppers milling around while employees urged them to back up and make room.
Ten people were slightly injured by the pepper spray and 10 others suffered minor bumps and bruises in the chaos, Valle said. They were treated at the scene.
“People could have gotten trampled,’’ he said. “Good thing there were no small kids.’’
The woman got away in the confusion, and it was not clear whether she got an Xbox, Valle said.
Meanwhile in Northern California, a Black Friday shopper was hospitalized in critical but stable condition after he was shot by an armed robber outside a Walmart, police said.
The victim and his family were walking to their car around 1:45 a.m. when they were confronted by a group of men who demanded their purchases. When the family refused, a fight broke out and one of the robbers pulled out a gun and shot the man, San Leandro police Sergeant Mike Sobek said.
“It looks like he’s going to live,’’ Sobek said. “The suspects saw these guys, got out of their car, and tried to rob them but were unsuccessful.’’
During the fracas, other family members wrestled down one of the robbers, a man in his 20s who was arrested by officers, Sobek said. The suspect was being interviewed by police.
Police were looking for at least three other people involved in the shooting, and investigators were reviewing video from a surveillance camera outside the store, Sobek said.
“The footage is a bit grainy but we’re hoping it gives us a better idea of what happened,’’ Sobek said.
Witnesses said the Walmart parking lot was crowded with Black Friday shoppers at the time, and the store was briefly closed as police investigated.
Also yesterday, a man was stabbed outside a Sacramento mall in an apparently gang-related incident as Black Friday shoppers were entering the stores.
The victim was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.
The stabbing stemmed from a fight between two groups at about 3 a.m. in front of a Macy’s department store at the Arden Fair Mall. The store had opened at midnight.
In North Carolina, authorities said gunfire erupted early yesterday at a mall as holiday shoppers gathered, though there were no reports of any injuries. No evacuation was ordered, but several shoppers left the mall and some smaller stores closed.
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said detectives were looking for two suspects after the gunfire rang out at Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville.
The first shots were fired about 2 a.m. outside the mall near a food court entrance. Investigators said several more shots were fired after a suspect ran inside.
Investigators said no one with gunshot wounds had arrived at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.
And in the Phoenix suburb of Buckeye, police were criticized over a video posted online yesterday that showed a grandfather unconscious on the floor of a Walmart with a bloody face after he was caught trying to shoplift Thursday night, police said.
The video shows Jerald Allen Newman, 54, unconscious and covered in blood after a police officer took him to the ground.
Officers in the video tried to sop up blood as outraged customers yelled expletives.