To anyone but the most dedicated bargain hunter, Black Friday often seems like a uniquely American nightmare of mindless materialism and unchecked aggression. What sane person would wait days in line to shop at Walmart, or proceed from a bountiful turkey dinner surrounded by family to an apocalyptic mayhem full of strangers who will literally fight you for a flat-screen television? (Watch a video of shoppers at a Georgia Walmart nearly rioting over electronics below.) And yet that's not even the worst of it, as these cases, most of them involving law enforcement authorities, will show. Here, five horror stories from Black Friday 2012:
1. Two people were shot in Florida
Two people were shot and wounded outside a Walmart in Tallahassee, Fla., after they reportedly had a fight with a third party over a parking spot. The two victims were taken to the hospital, and are expected to make a full recovery. The shooting caused the Walmart to shut down temporarily, but it was soon reopened.
2. A man in Texas pulled a gun on a line-cutter
A man in San Antonio, Texas, was none too happy when another shopper tried to cut in line at Sears. The annoyed man objected, which earned him a punch in the face from the line-cutter. The injured man then allegedly retaliated by pulling out his semi-automatic handgun. Police say they believe that he was truly afraid for his life, so the gun-toter was not charged with any crime, and his assailant got away.
3. A boy in Massachusetts was abandoned
Police found a 2-year-old boy abandoned in the back of a car in the parking lot of a Kmart in Springfield, Mass. The boy had been brought to the Kmart by his mother's boyfriend, who bought a flat-screen television and somehow returned home with neither the boy nor his car. The boyfriend, Anthony Perry, claims that he lost track of the boy while shopping. He will be charged with reckless endangerment of a child.
4. A masked gunman shot up a ceiling in Colorado
A man wearing a ski mask stormed a Target in Aurora, Colo., and allegedly fired one round from his handgun at the ceiling. The suspect then took off without taking anything, leaving his motive a mystery. However, he did manage to cause a fair amount of panic, with shoppers describing a stampede of people fleeing the spot where the shot was fired.
5. A woman pulled a gun on a cop in Michigan
Police in Holland Township, Mich., say two female shoplifters were intercepted by a cop as they were exiting an Old Navy. The women fled after the cop confiscated the stolen merchandise, but later tried to wrestle back the goods as he wrote down the license plate of their car. One of the women then pulled out a gun, forcing the detective to relinquish the merchandise. The two suspects were apprehended by police without incident later that day.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How Ronald Reagan turned America into a nation of children
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- 8 things the world's most extraordinary survivors can teach you about resilience
- The crusade against Iraq War supporters has forgotten someone: Hillary Clinton
- This week I learned the moon might be littered with dinosaur fossils, and more
- The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
- 8 secrets to steal from power networkers
Subscribe to the Week