By Karen Brooks
(Reuters) – An officer was injured breaking up a fight outside a California Walmart and a shopper was shot in the leg over a TV in Las Vegas as the post-Thanksgiving shopping rush sparked violence at a number of stores across the nation, according to police and media reports.
The holiday shopping incidents also included a suspected shoplifter shot by police in a Chicago suburb and a woman spitting on another woman’s child during an argument over baby clothes.
“Black Friday,” the biggest U.S. shopping day of the year, began a few hours earlier this year as many department stores opted to open or start their discounts on Thanksgiving night for the first time.
While most retailers reported peaceful – if hectic – opening hours, some saw the shopping craze erupt into violence.
SPECIAL SECTION: Black Friday
Police in Romeoville, Ill., shot a shoplifting suspect in the shoulder late Thursday night after the car he was driving dragged an officer through the parking lot of a Kohl’s department store, Romeoville Police Chief Mark Turvey said in a video posted by the Chicago Tribune newspaper.
Police were responding to a report of two shoplifters at the store when an officer chased one of the suspects to a waiting vehicle, where the suspect jumped into the passenger’s seat, Turvey said.
“The officer was struggling with the suspect as he got into the car, and then the car started to move as the officer was partially inside the car,” Turvey said. “The officer was dragged quite some distance.”
Another officer shot the driver in the shoulder, the car stopped, and three suspects were arrested, Turvey said. The dragged officer was treated at a hospital and released, the Chicago Tribune reported.
In Las Vegas, a shopper was shot in the leg by thieves who tried to rob him of his new TV, just purchased in a Black Friday sale at a Target, as he walked with it to a nearby apartment complex, according to a report by KLAS-TV in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas police did not respond to Reuters’ requests for confirmation.
An police officer in Rialto, Calif., suffered a fractured hand and finger after responding to an assault in the parking lot of a Walmart just after the sales started Thursday, said Sgt. Richard Royce of the Rialto Police Department, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
“It was a pretty bizarre scene,” he said.
Two shoppers were leaving the store when they were confronted by two people in a vehicle in the parking lot. One of the people in the vehicle got out and began punching and kicking the shopper, and also assaulted a woman who tried to stop the fight, Royce said.
When police tried to stop the fight, a second suspect emerged from the vehicle and the two began fighting the officers, he said.
Two victims were treated at a hospital and released, as was the injured officer, Royce said.
The suspected attackers were charged with felony assault, assault on a police officer, and assault with a deadly weapon, Royce said.
In New Jersey, a Walmart shopper was arrested after becoming belligerent and attacking a police officer inside a store in Garfield, police said. Several officers subdued a 23-year-old suspect and took him to jail.
Officers also ticketed a 29-year-old woman who spit on another woman’s child during an argument over infant clothing at the same store, police said.