November 28, 2009 in Nation/World

Unruly customers cause Wal-Mart closure

Baxter Holmes Los Angeles Times

Black Friday brought out the rowdy side of Wal-Mart shoppers early Friday when the Upland, Calif., store shut down for more than two hours after customers inside caused a ruckus.

Store management called Upland police at 2:44 a.m., asking for assistance in dealing with customers who were “fighting inside,” said Lt. Jim Etchason.

About 300 people were in the store, which had remained open all night as a security precaution after a Wal-Mart worker on Long Island, N.Y., was trampled to death on Black Friday 2008 when a surging crowd rushed the doors after the store opened.

But in Upland, employees said, customers began tearing into merchandise that had been shrink-wrapped and unopened.

“This was without a doubt the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said one employee, who said she has worked a dozen Black Fridays. “They wouldn’t let people line up … They were belligerent. They just bombarded the store.”

Several officers were sent and stood by as shoppers were herded out and the store closed, Etchason said.

The bargain hunters were told to line up in the parking lot. Meanwhile, the carts were emptied and all the items returned to the shelves, employees said.

The store reopened shortly before 6 a.m., allowing customers back inside in groups of 30, and people were proceeding inside in an orderly fashion, according to employees.

No arrests were made, and no injuries were reported.

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