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Wal-Mart pepper-spraying: LAPD releases description of suspect

November 25, 2011 |  1:49 pm

Los Angeles police gave a fuller description Friday of the woman who pepper-sprayed fellow shoppers at a Porter Ranch Wal-Mart, apparently in an effort to gain a competitive edge during a Thanksgiving night "Black Friday" sale on video-game consoles.

Police described the woman as a Latina, in her early to late 30s, wearing black pants and a black sweater during the late Thursday night assault. LAPD Det. Gus Villanueva said the woman stands about 5-foot-3 and weighs about 140 pounds.

Although more people may have been affected, 10 customers were treated at the scene by city firefighters, he said. Witnesses said the woman was bent on nabbing an Xbox game console, which was one of the Black Friday specials at the store.

There were reports that the woman managed to buy one of the consoles, and Villanueva said LAPD detectives were reviewing video surveillance and receipts in an effort to identify the suspect.

“Crowds like this, a panic can ensue, people could fall and be trampled on if people are stampeding in an effort to get away from this,” Villanueva said Friday afternoon. “I know there’s tough economic times for some and sales are great, but in the spirit of the season let’s exercise some patience at these sales events. We don’t want anyone to be injured.”

North Hills residents Sue McManus, 48, a consulting firm conference coordinator, and her husband, Danny, 49, a movie makeup assistant, were at the Porter Ranch store when the pepper-spray incident happened.

They were there for a 40-inch Samsung LCD TV marked down from $698 to $598. Danny McManus said “people were flying and pushing past us” in the health and beauty section because the electronics section was so crowded. The couple decided to leave when his eyes started getting irritated.

“I’m not putting up with pepper spray for one TV,” he said. “There wasn’t a place in the store where you couldn’t smell the stuff. ... It was a gnarly, burning smell.”

Villanueva said anyone with information on the incident is asked to call detectives at (818) 832-0609.

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-- Angel Jennings and Hector Becerra

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