(Photo: Reuters/Jeff Haynes)
A number of Black Friday-associated fights have broken out across the nation during one of the busiest shopping days of the year, with police having to break up brawls and open fire on suspects, and the Twitter hashtag #WalmartFights is tracking a number of the incidents.
A suspected shoplifter was shot in the arm on Thursday night after dragging an officer through a Kohl's parking lot in Romeoville, Ill., The Chicago Tribune reported, which apparently caused a "spectacle" but did not halt the shopping at the department store.
Police were responding to an alert of a theft in progress at the store, when they saw two suspects bringing a shopping cart out of the store. When an officer approached one of the suspects, the man got in his car and closed the door, trapping the officer's arm. The man then proceeded to drive away, dragging the officer with the vehicle, the report said, which led to another officer opening fire and shooting the driver in the arm. A total of three suspects were arrested in the incident.
In another incident on Thursday night, an officer was sent to the hospital after trying to break up a brawl between two men at a Walmart store in Rialto, Calif., the San Bernardino County Sun reported.
Over 3,000 people had lined up at the local Walmart, which was scheduled to open at 8 p.m., and three fights broke out at the store shortly after 7 p.m., when the store decided to open early due to demand, leaving an officer who tried to break up one of the fights with a broken wrist. All involved in the brawls were taken into custody.
Previous Back Friday incidents of violence have been reported in other Walmart locations, with a CP report taking a look at some of those cases. Twitter users have also been filing their own reports with the hashtag #walmartfights, posting numerous stories and photos of violence from across a number of stores in the U.S.
Despite such incidents, and threats of a consumer boycott due to retailers opening up earlier than ever before and pulling Black Friday deeper into Thanksgiving, mall managers have said they are seeing very good business this year, CNN Money reported.
"I'm not worried. People still have the option of doing what they want," said Randy Tennison, manager of the Jordan Creek Town Center near Des Moines, Iowa. "Retailers are reacting to what customers want. Many people want to stay at home and be with their families, and that's great. Others want to go shopping, and that's great too."
"We're in the business to serve. When the customers are asking us to be more accommodating, we listen to them," added Staten Island Mall in New York spokesman David Albertson.