Wal-Mart pepper-spray attack involved Xbox, Wii games, witnesses says
The pepper-spray attack at a Porter Ranch Wal-Mart at the beginning of Black Friday shopping apparently involved shoppers waiting to purchase Xbox and Wii video games, witnesses said.
The Los Angeles Police Department is searching for a woman who allegedly used pepper spray on at least 20 people at the store in what authorities said was a deliberate attempt to get more merchandise.
Police on Friday were trying to develop a description of the woman, who left the store after the incident.
One witness said screams erupted after about 100 people waiting in line to snag Xbox gaming consoles and Wii video games got into a shoving match.
Alejandra Seminario, 24, said she was waiting in line to grab some toys at the store around 9:55 p.m. when people the next aisle over started shouting and ripping at the plastic wrap encasing gaming consoles. The store was supposed to be opened at 10 p.m.
"People started screaming, pulling and pushing each other, and then the whole area filled up with pepper spray," the Sylmar resident said. "I guess what triggered it was people started pulling the plastic off the pallets and then shoving and bombarding the display of games. It started with people pushing and screaming because they were getting shoved onto the boxes."
The pepper spray wafted through the air, Seminario said, and she breathed some in and started coughing. Her face also started itching.
"This was customer-versus-customer 'shopping rage,' " said Los Angeles Police Lt. Abel Parga.
The Los Angeles Fire Department arrived to treat those who were hurt. Shoppers complained of minor skin and eye irritation and sore throats. None of the injuries were serious.
The woman used the spray in more than one area of the Wal-Mart "to gain preferred access to a variety of locations in the store," said Los Angeles Fire Capt. James Carson.
"She was competitive shopping," he said.
According to KTLA News, YouTube video taken inside the store shows customers jostling to access the merchandise.
-- Andrew Blankstein and Hailey Branson-Potts