SEATTLE — The release of Nike’s new Air Jordan basketball shoes caused a frenzy at stores across the nation early today, with police using pepper spray on a group of rowdy customers near Seattle and officers arresting some shoppers after a crowd broke down a door in suburban Atlanta.
A group of about 20 people were sprayed after getting into fights at the Westfield Southcenter mall in suburban Seattle, Tukwila Officer Mike Murphy said.
The crowd started gathering around midnight at four stores in the mall and had grown to more than 1,000 by 4 a.m., when the stores opened, Murphy said.
“Around 3 (a.m.) there started to be some fighting and pushing among the customers,” he said. “Around 4, it started to get pretty unruly and officers sprayed pepper spray on a few people who were fighting, and that seemed to do the trick to break them up.”
No injuries were reported, although some people suffered cuts or scrapes from fights, Murphy said. The crowd broke off a door.
One man was arrested for assault after authorities say he pushed an officer.
“He did not get his shoes; he went to jail,” Murphy said.
About 25 officers from Tukwila, Renton, Kent, Seattle and King County responded. They smelled marijuana and found alcohol containers at the scene, he said.
Murphy said the crowd was on the verge of a riot and would have gotten even more out of hand if the police hadn’t intervened.
“It was not a nice orderly group of shoppers,” he said. “There were a lot of hostile and disorderly people.”
The stores sold out of the Air Jordan 11 Retro Concords, and all but about 50 people got their Nikes.
Hundreds of customers also lined up outside shoe stores in downtown Seattle and at a mall in Federal Way.
Across the country, at least four people were arrested in a mad dash by customers hoping to buy the shoes at a suburban Atlanta mall.
DeKalb County police told Fox 5 Atlanta that up to 20 squad cars responded to a mall in Lithonia early Friday. They said a large crowd broke down a door to get inside before a store opened.
Police said they escorted most of the people outside but took four into custody.
Officers said they had to break a car window to get two toddlers out after a woman went in after the shoes. They said she was taken into custody when she returned to the car.