Friday, November 28, 2008

People are disgusting

It's just STUFF. What the fuck is wrong with people?

(CNN) -- A temporary Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death Friday in a rush of thousands of early morning shoppers as he attempted to unlock the doors of a Valley Stream, New York, store at 5 a.m., police said.

Two people were killed in a shooting at a Palm Desert, California, Toys "R" Us store on Friday.

The man was 34 and lived in Queens, said Nassau County police Detective Lt. Michael Fleming. Authorities did not release his name.

"This was utter chaos as these men tried to open the door this morning," Fleming said.

In California, two people were killed in a shooting at a Toys 'R' Us in Palm Desert, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. The shooting occurred about 11:36 a.m. (2:36 p.m. ET), authorities said. Police did not release the victims' ages or gender.

In New York, video footage showed as many as a dozen people knocked to the floor in the stampede of people trying to get into the Wal-Mart store, Fleming said. The employee was "stepped on by hundreds of people" as other workers attempted to fight their way through the crowd, Fleming said.

"Several minutes" passed before others were able to clear space around the man and render some aid. Police arrived, and "as they were giving first aid, those police officers were also jostled and pushed," he said.

"Shoppers ... were on a full-out run into the store," he said.

The crowd had began forming outside the store as early as 9 p.m. Thursday, Fleming said police patrols had reported. Just before the doors opened at 5 a.m., the crowd probably numbered at least 2,000, and when the doors were unlocked, "the crowd surged forward" forcefully enough to break the store's doors, he said.

The man was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Others in the crowd sustained minor injuries such as sprained ankles, Fleming said.

A 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to a hospital, he said, but "I'm happy to report she did not miscarry, and the baby is going to be OK." The woman was to be released from the hospital Friday, he said.

Footage from the scene showed hundreds of people standing outside the store in the predawn darkness as police cars and ambulances ringed the building.

In California, Daniel Watson said he was at home with his children when his wife called from the Toys "R" Us store, where she was shopping with her mother.

"All I could hear was gunshots in the back," he said. "She said, 'They're in here shooting.' I told her to run and hide, stay down and hide."

He said his wife hid in the back of the store under a clothes rack. "She said she saw at least two people dead," he said. Watson said both his wife and mother-in-law got out of the store without injury.

Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez said Palm Desert police received several calls of shots being fired inside the store and found two people dead when they arrived. He had no information on a suspect or suspects.

Asked about the possibility of criminal charges in the Wal-Mart death, Fleming said he would not rule it out but noted that charges would be "very difficult," as it would be "almost impossible" to identify people in the crowd from the video and that those in the front of the crowd were also pushed by those behind them. Hundreds of people probably lined up in an orderly fashion, he said, but got caught up in the rush.

Wal-Mart spokesman Kelly Cheeseman issued a statement saying, "We are saddened to report that a gentleman who was working for a temporary agency on our behalf died at the store and a few other customers were injured. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this difficult time."

The company is investigating the incident, the statement said, but gave no further details.

Officers patrolling the shopping center overnight had some concerns about the size of the crowd, Fleming said, and tried to get it a little better organized. Wal-Mart security officers were also present overnight, he said, but he did not know how many.

"I don't know what it's worth to Wal-Mart or to any of these stores that run these sales events," Fleming said, "but it has become common knowledge that large crowds do gather on the Friday after Thanksgiving, in response to these sales and in an effort to do their holiday shopping at the cheapest prices.

"I think it is incumbent upon the commercial establishments to recognize that this has the potential to occur at any store. Today, it happened to be Wal-Mart. It could have been any other store where hundreds and hundreds of people gather."

Asked whether the security present was adequate, Fleming said, "In light of the outcome, in hindsight, the answer is obviously no. ... This crowd was out of control."

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