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Black Friday: Wal-Mart in Upland temporarily closes after ‘fighting inside’

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Black Friday brought out the rowdy side of Wal-Mart shoppers early this morning when the Upland location shut down for more than two hours after customers caused a ruckus inside.

Store management called Upland police at 2:44 a.m., asking for assistance in dealing with customers who were “fighting inside,” said Lt. Jim Etchason.

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About 300 people were in the store, which had remained open all night as a security precaution after a Wal-Mart worker on Long Island, N.Y., was trampled to death last year on Black Friday when a surging, impatient crowd rushed the doors after the store opened.

But in Upland, employees said, customers began tearing into merchandise that had been shrink-wrapped and were supposed to be opened at 5 a.m.

“This was without a doubt the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said one employee, who said she has worked a dozen Black Fridays.

“They wouldn’t let people line up,” she added. “They were belligerent. They just bombarded the store.”

Several officers were sent and stood by as shoppers were kicked out and the store closed down, Etchason said. The bargain hunters were told to line up in the parking lot.

Meanwhile, the carts were emptied and all the items returned to the shelves, employees said. But they said that outside, people began “yelling and screaming,” pounding on the glass doors and trying to sneak into the store through the lawn and garden section.

Store managers had to be sent outside to try to calm the crowd, workers said.

“It was scary,” one said.

But when police officers left at 6:15 a.m., “everyone was behaving themselves,” Etchason said. The store had reopened a bit before 6 a.m., allowing customers inside in groups of 30, and “people were proceeding inside in an orderly fashion.”

No arrests were made, and no injuries were reported. By 9 a.m., the store seemed back to normal, with packed shopping carts and long checkout lines.

-- Baxter Holmes


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