A Wal-Mart worker has died after being trampled by a throng of shoppers shortly after a store opened Friday on Long Island in New York State, police said.
Frenzied shoppers desperate for bargains broke down the doors at a 5 a.m. sale. Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers shouted angrily and kept shopping when store officials said they were closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.
At least four other people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries, and the store in Valley Stream on Long Island closed for several hours before reopening.
Shoppers stepped over the man on the ground and streamed into the store. When told to leave, some complained that they had been in line since Thursday morning.
Nassau County police said about 2,000 people were gathered outside the store doors at the mall about 20 miles east of Manhattan. The impatient crowd knocked the man, identified by police as Jdimytai Damour of Queens, to the ground as he opened the doors, leaving a metal portion of the frame crumpled like an accordion.
"This crowd was out of control," said Nassau police spokesman Lt. Michael Fleming. He described the scene as "utter chaos," and said the store didn't have enough security. Damour, 34, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead about 6 a.m., police said. The exact cause of death has not been determined.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark., called the incident a "tragic situation" and said the employee came from a temporary agency and was doing maintenance work at the store. It said it tried to prepare for the crowd by adding staffers and outside security workers, putting up barricades and consulting police.
2 killed at Toys "R" Us
Shopping violence also broke out in Palm Desert, Calif., on Friday afternoon. Two people were killed inside a Toys "R" Us store in the southern California community, said Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez.
Witnesses reported hearing four shots at about 11:30 a.m. and nearby stores reported that customers and staff were seen running from the building.
The two men were shot after a confrontation apparently involving rival groups, city officials said. Riverside County sheriff department Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez confirmed there was a fight but said it was not over a toy.
Known as Black Friday, the day after U.S. Thanksgiving is the traditional kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. Many stores open early and offer deep discounts, leading to long lineups and crowd surges when the doors open.