Black Friday 2011 Shopper Arrest at Walmart

Black Friday proved to be troublesome at several of the retailer’s outlets, with at least two dozen shoppers injured and several arrests stemming from overzealous shopping, robberies and other incidents.

Troubles at the nation’s largest retailer began lateThanksgiving Day, when about 20 customers, including kids, suffered minor injuries at a Los Angeles Walmart after they were pepper sprayed by a shopper. Police, who are still searching for the woman, say she used the pepper spray to gain an edge over fellow shoppers vying for discounted Xbox video game players.

A shopper outside the San Leandro, Calif., Walmart was shot at 1:45 a.m. after he and family members resisted two armed men trying to steal purchases. The unidentified victim was in critical but stable condition and expected to survive. Police arrested Tony Phillips, 20, for attempted homicide and robbery.

Among other incidents plaguing Walmart:

•Two South Carolina shoppers were robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot near a Hilton Head Island Walmart.

•In upstate New York, two women were injured in altercations that broke out at a Rome Walmart that had just let Black Friday shoppers into its electronics department. One man was charged with disorderly conduct.

•In the Phoenix suburb of Buckeye, Walmart shopper Jerald Allen Newman was roughed up by police as he put a video game in the waistband of his pants as he tried to lift his grandson so he wouldn’t be trampled by a crowd. Witnesses told Phoenix TV station KSAZ that police thought the 54-year-old grandfather was stealing the video game.

•In Kinston, N.C., an early Friday scuffle erupted between Walmart customers trying to snap up cellphones marked down from $200 to $35. An off-duty Kinston police officer working security for the store pepper sprayed several consumers. One unidentified shopper was arrested.

•Police used a stun gun to subdue Walmart shopper Brian Shellnutt in Milford, Conn., after he allegedly hit another shopper in a Thursday night fight while waiting to buy video games. Shellnutt, 26, faces assault and other charges.

•A man was arrested in a scuffle at a jewelry counter at a Kissimmee, Fla., Walmart. And near Muskegon, MI., a teen suffered minor injuries after being knocked over and stepped on repeatedly in a consumer rush to the electronics department.

The incidents appear to be the result of two converging trends on Black Friday: bigger crowds in search of bigger, broader deals.

“The more the people, the more the occurrences,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with market research firm The NPD Group.

Separately, bomb threats were made at Walmart stores in Woodland Park, Colo., Neosho, Mo., and the chain’s hometown, Bentonville, Ark.

Wal-Mart operates about 3,800 U.S. stores and more than 600 Sam’s Club warehouse outlets. Since the death of a store employee in a 2008 Black Friday stampede, the chain has implemented new security and crowd control measures, such as spreading door-buster deals over several hours.

Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter says he’s unsure if this year’s incidents are more pervasive than in years past.

“Except for a few unfortunate incidents, we’ve heard positive feedback from customers and our associates going through the biggest shopping day of the year,” Rossiter says.