Holiday shopping season kicks off with fights, arrests
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The start of the holiday shopping season Thursday included reports of fights among shoppers at numerous Wal-Marts nationwide, including one man stabbed and two arrested fighting over a parking space at a store in Virginia.
The Tazewell County, Va., sheriff department reports that it arrested Ronnie Sharp, 61, and Christopher Jackson, 35, after responding to a call of a fight in a parking lot of the Wal-Mart in Claypool Hill, Va.
Sharp was allegedly threatening Jackson with a rifle and a knife when sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene, according to the police. Jackson was suffering from a severe knife cut on his arm. Both were being held in the county jail early Friday.
Police in Rialto, Calif., said an officer broke his hand and finger trying to break up a fight in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Raymond Rice, 25, was charged with felony assault and assault on a police officer A female relative of Rice, Chennel Smith, was also arrested when she joined the fight after police tried to restrain Rice.
There were also reports and video of fights in Beaumont, Texas; Johnson City, Tenn.; Elkin, N.C.; Garfield, N.J.; and Jordan Creek, Iowa, although the authenticity of those fights could not immediately be confirmed with police in those jurisdictions.
Bill Simon, CEO of Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations, said Friday that the nation’s largest retailer attracted more than 22 million shoppers on Thursday and that problems were down from previous years. He said a new policy that guaranteed shoppers who showed up in the first hour that they would be able to get the 21 hottest sales items had calmed things down compared to previous years.
“By and large there were a few small incidents but we were really really pleased with how the event went last night,” he said on CNN’s New Day.
He told CNNMoney that he did not know the details of any fights that did occur.
“Any time you get more than 22 million people together, you get some behavior people aren’t proud of,” he said.
In 2008 a Wal-Mart employee at a Long Island, N.Y., store was trampled to death when thousands of shoppers rushed into the store at the opening the day after Thanksgiving.
— CNNMoney’s Jose Pagliery contributed to this story